Egan On Edge
It was smooth sailing yet for Grilled Birds against IV.6 leaders Jedadiah F.C., as Grilled racked up seven goals by the end of their stay at the Pulau Stadium. Jedadiah head coach Adil Husni Tahir had done quite well with the squad he had inherited from the community, as they won both their league fixtures very convincingly, despite not touching their new funding at all. Toh Chuan Leng and Chan Puay Rong had moreover sparked the fans' imaginations, as they dealt out masterclasses - for the Division Four level, at least.
The Birds were, to put it lightly, completely unlike what had come before, as Adil Husni Tahir recognized in arranging a very deep-lying 4-4-2. This was a very understandable tactic from the hosts, given the circumstances, and it actually worked quite nicely for the first half an hour. Jedadiah had an abounding willingness to cover ground and each other, and against such suffocating pressing, not even Grilled's rather superior passing proved enough to make much headway.
The usual downsides of Jedadiah's approach would have to emerge sooner or later, of course, and once their players lost that extra measure of stamina to maintain their intensity, the Birds were off and flying. Kalki Parvathaneni
, who had only just fought his way back into the starting lineup at right wing, would find freely himself rotating with Moey Xin Seng
on that side. This bore fruit in the 32nd minute, as Kalki found himself in some space upon their latest exchange, and drove through to loft it past Wee Yew Choon for 1-0.
Jedadiah's conviction wavered at conceding that first goal, as so often happens, and there would be two more in the next four minutes, as the Birds advanced on cue. Vikram Mudaliar
was next to score, casually sweeping home after another break down the right, and Neeraj Muthyala
made it three from a squared free-kick. There would then be a setback for Grilled, as they lost Chan Ze Han
to a twisted right ankle, after he had tried to follow up on an Egan save, dropped by Wee.
Argentine referee Uriel Deyameda Zuza saw no ill-intent in Wee's second stop that caused him to fall onto Chan, and the match resumed with Salah Kamel
on for Chan in midfield. Egan wouldn't spare too much wasted thought over the lost chance, as he dribbed past four men to assist Moey Xin Seng
, straight from Grilled's next attack. Kalki should have made it five before half-time, but Phua Min Heng slid in just in time to get in the way of his slightly-lackadaisical finish.
The commentators would have to note that Jedadiah had not managed to force Manuel Vadalà
into play at all, which they would at least rectify soonish. Their big opportunity would arrive after a miss from Bhavya Panigrahi
that set off a direct surge down the middle, as Toh Chuan Leng did very well to protect the ball and open some lanes. There would be a few sharp passes before it got to veteran fullback Hiraku Shintani coming up from the left, but to Hikaru's great consternation, he hammered it just outside the left post, though Vadalà would probably have blocked it otherwise anyway.
Some petulance from young Abu Bakar Khaleel in the aftermath would bring him the only booking of the match, after which Bernie Egan
took over. It took just a couple of minutes for Egan to go from zero to two goals, as he first fired into the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty area, in the 56th. Jedadiah had not quite found their feet after that, when the Irishman zoomed in once again, and flipped Radovan Jaška
's flat pass over a despairing Wee.
Wee would gain the satisfaction of denying Moey from close range, as Grilled continued to batter his defence, though a seventh goal would arrive later on, as Bhavya Panigrahi
flighted it through a less-than-compact defensive wall. Panigrahi would then exit a few minutes early for José Luiz Velho
, by the looks of it, for a headstart on the showers.