Dog Days Of Spring
Grilled went to The Doghouse ready to all but confirm the title and take their biggest stride towards another perfect season, but would up utterly chastised by a Singapore Big Dogs side that had nothing to lose. The 0-6 defeat made waves about the league, as Hovaness Noubaryan
's selection would draw much retrospective critique from the buzzing pundits.
In particular, Prokop Mottl
might have been one of the late-blooming standouts of the past season, but he would fare miserably when pitted against Mahesh Murthy on the left today. In the end, however, one could only say that the hosts were far, far more up for the challenge than the Birds, which would be reflected in a one-sided beatdown.
Mottl's defensive deficiencies would be mercilessly shown up by the former national U-20 star Murthy, as Grilled's left would continually collapse against his exuberant dribbling. The home supporters would get the hint that they had the upper hand, which would soon be reflected by a stylish opener. Murthy bent it in, and despite Webb's best efforts, Jani Lindqvist reached in with his left foot to redirect it past Massoud Dob
Noubaryan knew by then that the balance of the team was off, but despite having several plausible options on the bench, refused to make a change. Chu Xin Lee
would be booked after tumbling Dietrich Venzin in an attempt to steal the ball, and it would be 2-0 in the 22nd minute as Alistair Xiao picked Yuta Nakakita
's pass off.
Dob would have to be saved by the bar from a fiercely-struck Lindqvist free-kick next. Grilled recovered somewhat as the half went on - including Mottl - even if he would also receive a yellow for repeated fouling. Cyril Künzler
managed the Birds' first attempt on target after 35 minutes, only to be denied at the last by former Indonesian youth international Wicaksana Mabenda.
Grilled's travelling fans were eagerly anticipating Noubaryan's substitutions, but against their expectations, Prokop Mottl
would stay on. Rather, the usual switch of Nakakita off, Panigrahi on took place. Noubaryan's faith in Mottl would appear to be well-placed, as he handled Murthy much more ably, and the first big chance of the new half would be Kalki Parvathaneni
's humdinger onto the crossbar.
That would be about it for the Birds' contributions, though, as the match suddenly swung the Big Dogs' way again. It was Leong Chu Shun's turn to shine against Künzler on the other wing, with the Polish defender struggling to maintain his stamina. This would lead to a third by Tay Ting Lee in the 61st, and then a fourth by Murthy some twelve minutes later, as Leong ran rings around Künzler and then Webb.
There was no question about the result by now, and the spectators' chants rang around the stadium, long before Hoàng Trung Quá
subbed in for Gilbert Webb
just before injury time - which was enough for Leong and Alex Zhang to further make up on the goal difference.