The question was whether Grilled Birds would make it to double-digits in this first-round cup derby against semi-pro Tanjong Pagar United, and the answer would be - no. The Birds would certainly come close, however, in a day marked by Bernie Egan
's overwhelming presence on the left, and Kalle ter Berg
's second official start for the club.
Stolid Tanjong Pagar captain Haji Jamal Nasir Othman, a teacher in his workday life, would give his team poor odds from the beginning, while their exuberant P.R. forward Zhuang Ze Ze was on the other end of the spectrum, as regarded optimism. Haji Jamal would prove the more prescient, not least since he would be the one saddle with the nigh-impossible task of containing Egan. He did do well for the first ten minutes or so at least, as Grilled's first goal would arriva via Moey Xin Seng
's slide-rule pass from the right, for Vikram Mudaliar
Zhuang's own fire would be doused somewhat after he received a yellow card in the 13th minute, for attempting to win the ball back from Gilbert Webb
from a lost position. With 33 year-old Wang Shuangkun looking a little out of shape and subdued, there was little preventing the Birds from pressing the attack, and Chan Ze Han
whupped a humdinger for 2-0 in the 15th. Home goalie Khoo Jia Yew got his moment five minutes later, as he stretched impressively to claw Heng Dong Chu
's scything effort aside, but Gilbert Webb
was ready and waiting.
made it four in the very next minute after a very busy exchange on the wing, and the match would then enter a prolonged lull, not discouraged by Eren Serpin
. With it being his first competitive match in charge, the new head coach would notably not be chaperoned by Noubaryan anywhere in the vicinity, and one sensed that his major priority was to keep everyone healthy for Sunday's league opener against The EV.
The match getting slowed to jogging pace for long stretches wasn't entirely well-received by the full house here, but it wasn't as if Grilled's professionals cared too much, and Tanjong Pagar's men were unable to contest the matter much either. Kalki Parvathaneni
would come on for Moey for the second half, with the Grilled captain evidently being preserved for The EV, and Chan Ze Han
coming out of the tunnel with the armband already transferred. Bilal Mohammad Harun
would be withdrawn too, for Neeraj Muthyala
It took some twenty dreary minutes for the real action to resume, as Bernie Egan
looked exceedingly impatient to stamp his mark here, coach's instructions or not. This would result in a brace within five minutes for the Irishman, as he swapped sides with Muthyala to devastating impact. Muthyala would not return empty-handed either, as he met Heng Dong Chu
's searching cross in the 78th minute especially well.
Mudaliar's bid for his second would be foiled by the left post, as he outran Mohd Jamil bin Jantan to the outside in the next minute, though the former international was sporting enough to accept the ITE student's proferred arm in good grace. There would then be an unfortunate accident on Tanjong Pagar's left flank in the 84th minute, as winger Wang Qunxiong had his arm accidentally trampled, after falling during a chase for the ball. Wang did signal his intent to continue, but Tanjong coach Mohd Ali bin Japperi decided to send Mohd Marzuki bin Jamil on as a precaution.
Well, it wasn't like that was about to make any real difference to the outcome, though Bernie Egan
's hat-trick completion from the previous event - the fifth in his career - did seem to mean quite a lot to him. Chan Ze Han
made a bid for his fourth too, but would have to settle for a neat little disguised flick across Khoo, with five minutes to play.