Bent Out Of Shape
Benfleet Branch didn't put up too much of a fight on their The Cooking Pot visit, as they took a third league defeat in succession, after their successful doubleheader against St. Savier's FC. Bran Lume and Sergiu Ţoie would look to reprise their previous scoring feats, but a magnificent midfield masterclass from Bilal Mohammad Harun
and friends, ensured that they wouldn't even manage a single shot on target of note.
The Benfleet squad had been stable for most of this season, and its most notable addition - Romanian midfielder György Oláh - would start on the bench today. Their Brazilian head coach Josimar Costa Lobo had come into much criticism for the club's average performance despite their evident wealth of talent, and Lobo would respond with an attempt to outflank the Birds today, perhaps inspired by their recent Division Battle display.
Sadly for the visitors, their reliance on improvisation was quickly shown up to be a doubtful idea, as they were continually suppressed with patient short passing from Grilled's playmakers. This was after Kalki Parvathaneni
had forewarned Northern Irish goalie Edward Dare with a strong header off Cyril Künzler
's first cross, which whistled menacingly just beyond the upright.
Grilled would soon be the clear victors of this wing versus central debate, as Benfleet Branch were gradually reduced to a reactive posture, despite a couple of dribbles from former national youth star Tengku Fadhul Salahuddin that set the blood pumping. Bereft of control, it was all Benfleet could do to keep the Birds' forwards as far away from goal as possible, but this lasted only until the 21st minute when Bernie Egan
threaded the needle with a wickedly-curving lob.
The opener would soon be followed by a second from the Irishman, who knew exactly what he was doing as Heng Dong Chu
's fluffed strike dropped kindly onto his stronger right foot. Vikram Mudaliar
then earned a penalty from a bustling dash, fearlessly driven down the middle by Künzler as he outwitted Dare.
The over eighty thousand supporters could have no doubt as to the final outcome, after Neeraj Muthyala
contributed an easy fourth in the 37th minute, as he all but waltzed over for the tap-in. Lume couldn't hide his fury at that - and he surely deserved better - but his teammates simply had no way to feed the ball to him with any consistency; it didn't help that Gilbert Webb
was on his game too.
came on the the second half as usual, and with the Birds seeking to close the match out without too much trouble, he wouldn't have too many challenges to make. Grilled would still attempt some opportunistic attacks, as when Chan Ze Han
's slick sleight-of-foot sent Kalki clear in the 57th minute, but the forward would have no luck against Edward Dare today.
Künzler, on the other hand, would have an easier time of it, as Heng Dong Chu
was swept off his feet in a clear foul by Dare, in the 79th minute. The penalty was offered to Bernie Egan
for his hat-trick, only to be turned down, and Künzler did the job. György Oláh's arrival didn't affect the situation much, and the game would end soon after Prokop Mottl
and José Luiz Velho
made their entries.