Panigrahi Pans Out
Grilled's return to the friendly circuit after their cup triumph would take them to Estonia, where they visited Hattrick International IV.55 side FC Total Annihilation. It had not been an especially enlivening campaign for the affiliates of the rather more-established FC IruFlora, all the more after their own Sapphire Challenger Cup run ended at the hands of No gun but Roses FC, with Ignatiy Oskotskiy injured. That started a streak of six straight losses, and with pressurized head coach Erki Kukk fielding a 5-5-0 of last resort, it didn't look like that unenviable record would end today.
The Birds were actually fairly vulnerable here, it had to be said, with Eren Serpin
loathe to risk any more of his regulars than needed. Moey Xin Seng
, who needed match time, would start, as did Heng Dong Chu
and Bhavya Panigrahi
, both of whom had been neglected in recent competitive matches. Mateja Jeftić
would make his official Grilled debut here at rightback, likewise for 18 year-old Louis Vara
in goal, with Manuel Vadalà
- who's psyching himself up for what he's described as the biggest game of his life - kept safely under wraps back in Singapore.
This was probably a good precaution, although the suggestion would be supplied not by one of Vadalà's Grilled teammates, but by the hosts. Vyacheslav Shusharin, usually a centreback but placed at right midfield today, would have his right knee unfortunately stomped on by both Radovan Jaška
and Kaupo Aavasalu, as he unexpectedly fell while chasing the ball. Faroese referee Hákun Sigurheim could discern no intent on either part, and it was therefore only a matter of Shusharin off, Arto Lukk on, after six minutes.
Annihilation were getting rather impatient in pushing upfield despite their formation, resulting in the strange milestone of Grilled pulling off the first clear counterattack of the match, four minutes later. Yuta Nakakita
might not be as mobile as he once was, but his vision and passing accuracy remained largely intact, as he flighted it out to a breaking Prokop Mottl
on the right. Mottl in turn found Heng Dong Chu
, but while Heng's exacting takedown of the ball was on point, his excitable finish left much to be desired.
Margus Lukk would be booked abit later as Mottl challenged him once more, but it would be Annihilation who improved more over this first half. Their best move came in the 22nd minute, when Hendrik Toomel eluded first Yee Jian Hui
and then Heng Dong Chu
, when they appeared to have him hemmed in at his own corner flag. The counter was swift, with Kaupo Aavasalu doing the bulk of the running, only for Margus Lukk's letdown at the end.
Otherwise, there wasn't too much to shout about for either team, with Annihilation being very persistent with their pressing, a state that carried over to the second half. With Yuta Nakakita
subbed out and Mohd Jafni Abdul Majid
in, the hosts piled on in the first five minutes or so, with Louis Vara
making a big save from Emil Lepp. The resulting corner would be laid on a platter for Garri Pärn, but the winger delayed the shot a moment too long, allowing Mateja Jeftić
to save the day.
Grilled remained wholly uninspiring, on the other hand, and there was no sign of where a goal would come from; Prokop Mottl
and José Luiz Velho
would be replaced by Kohei Okuya
and Dante Tran
for extra time, while Annihilation contented themselves with doing some on-pitch rotation. Interestingly, the Birds would appear far more alert after the second break, and Moey Xin Seng
and then Kohei Okuya
would test Roland Sepp in short order.
The winner would ultimately arrive via Bhavya Panigrahi
, though, as the out-of-favour defender flaunted his moves in the 99th minute, after receiving a timely layoff from Radovan Jaška
; there were no second thoughts as he ghosted across his opponent, as he sliced it powerfully in at Sepp's near post.