Chu Comes Alive
The Birds took their time getting into gear against Toa Payoh III.1 side FC Royal Flush in the second round of the cup, but would emerge 8-1 winners, as their hosts' gameplan broke down entirely in the second half. FC Royal Flush had come from behind to nudge Tanglin Silver Tigers FC last Wednesday, and then crushed CFC97 by four goals in the league. None of this could quite prepare them for what they would be up against today, and head coach Fang Liang De had hinted at tight, proactive closing-down as basic policy.
This was what FC Royal Flush executed for the first thirty minutes or so, with the sold-out Flush Arena beginning to believe, as their team hassled Grilled thoroughly. Skipper Yap Woon Chi led by example from the front, and gave both Bhavya Panigrahi
and Gilbert Webb
some potentially-embarassing moments, as he latched onto them whenever they were in possession. Still, since passing it all the way back to Massoud Dob
was usually an option, the Birds were never fully choked off.
The home team's fervor at localized pressing could only dampen, however, and the Birds would go in front through Kalki Parvathaneni
in the 33rd minute, as he made the most out of his outside-left posting, by losing Arul Raju before darting into the penalty area for the open shot. FC Royal Flush tried to bite back immediately, and their first attempt - through Tan Chao Tian - wasn't all that far away. Li Yi Chee would do the trick a couple of minutes later, as he completely surprised Bilal Mohammad Harun
at the back post, for a free header and goal.
That would be the high point of FC Royal Flush's day, sadly for them, as Grilled wouldn't look back after Chu Xin Lee
put them 2-1 ahead in the 42nd minute. Chu's strike would be laced with some controversy, with a few of their players expecting the matched to be stopped for Ng Yi Sze to be looked at. Ng would eventually elect to be subbed off, having reactivated his ankle tweak from the weekend, and Moey Xin Seng
duly found a third for the Birds.
Those final few minutes of the first half really stretched out, as Prokop Mottl
found himself in hot water for what looked like a petulant lashing-out at Chua Kum Long, after being fairly brought down by the youngster. Referee Jan Stjernlind correctly allowed play to go on as the hosts swept upfield, before returning to book Mottl after Massoud Dob
had saved from Li; the commentators thought the Czech lucky to stay on, but he would be subbed off for Neeraj Muthyala
during half-time anyway.
Grilled were arguably more fluid in attack with Muthyala as a pivot in any case, and FC Royal Flush's resistance was clearly not what it had been, as the Birds cleverly played their way out of an intended entrapment in the 48th minute. There would be no-one left to handle Chu Xin Lee
when all was done and dusted, which made it 4-1.
With their cup dream fading fast, player-coach Fang Liang De - who had come on for Ng - tried to take matters into his own hands, as he personally led a breakout down the right side. Unfortunately, he wouldn't recognize Webb's slip in time, and the opportunity passed in a flash. Minutes later, the hosts would be down another goal and man, as Bilal's conversion of an indirect free-kick was followed by Arul Raju's exit from Kalki's rough tackle. Reserve winger Quah Shi Woon would be called upon to replace Raju, with Kalki also copping a yellow card.
There wasn't much to be said for the direction of the game after that, as Grilled piled onto their lead. Neeraj Muthyala
picked up his own goal after half-accidentally creating one for Chan Ze Han
, and Bhavya Panigrahi
cut inside intelligently from the right wing, to volley across a despairing Eddie Le for 8-1. Yuta Nakakita
would then fill in for Bilal, for the final ten minutes.