|Season 53||W||2 - 0||Friendly|
|Season 51||W||1 - 0||Tournament (Group Phase)|
|Season 49||W||2 - 4||League|
|Season 49||W||3 - 1||League|
|Season 48||W||0 - 5||Tournament (Group Phase)|
It was hardly a walk in the park at Big Nest Arena Singapore, whatever the 1-5 final scoreline might have suggested, as the Birds found themselves in a slugfest with Pasir Ris luminaries Tampines Phoenix F.C.; Grilled had crossed paths with the Phoenixes only twice before, when they were both in II.2 some twenty-seven seasons ago. That experiment ended with the Phoenixes' relegation, and while both sides have been reborn with the passage of time, the outcome would stay basically unchanged.
The campaign had been kind thus far to Khairul Azhar Khairil Anwar Abdul Malik's team, with the former Be Champions FC international guiding them to five wins in six competitive games, including a promising 4-1 over a restructuring Arrogancae in the previous round. Phoenixes would stick with the same steely 4-5-1 as they had then, which left the goal-getting to the individual brillance of Ahmad Zuhairi.
Grilled for their part were taking few chances, and had put out what was essentially their first team, playing narrow. This was turning out more or less as scripted, with the Birds allowed to dictate possession at will. The opening goal thus came entirely against form when it did, as wing star Imaduddin Ahmad ducked to the outside of Chan Ze Han
in the ninth minute, from a superb crossover dribble. The cross would be held up slightly, but that was just dandy for veteran fullback Wu Feng Jie, who bullied Mateja Jeftić
aside to get a bullet header in.
The Dutch defender wasn't one to take that sort of provocation lying down, and he got his own back some ten minutes later on, after Sumed Nath got a late foot in on Salah Kamel
in full flight. The free-kick left nothing to be desired, as Jeftić got it just over the wall, and dropped it inches inside the right post. Sadly, Jeftić wouldn't be much longer for the game, as he was then replaced by Bhavya Panigrahi
in the 33rd minute after pulling his thigh muscles.
That substitution did spur Grilled to two more goals in a jiffy, as the Phoenixes backline finally failed to cope with Moey Xin Seng
and Kalle ter Berg
's stubborn ventures down the right. Lee Tian Su had dealt with Moey in particular by drawing upon all his considerable experience gathered over his 35 years, but his physical specs were simply not up to the task, once the Birds managed to isolate him with crisp passing.
Grilled were seemingly pleased enough with a two-goal lead to not drive themselves too hard, and the game would operate at close to a walking pace for much of its remaining time. The Phoenixes for their part didn't seem to have many ideas other than waiting for glaring mistakes, and the entries of Bernie Egan
, Tarun Prasad and then Li Guang Wan in the second half wouldn't do much to shake this comfy state of affairs up.
It would all get a lot nastier as the inevitable ending loomed, as the Phoenixes strove to expend their remaining energy in search of a miracle. Lee Tian Su was definitely not pulling any punches any longer, as when he viciously hacked Vikram Mudaliar
down in the 77th minute, and was probably lucky to escape with just a yellow card.
All these measures wouldn't avail Tampines Phoenix F.C. of their greatest problem, which was making actual sustained inroads into Grilled's half, and they would soon suffer for it as the Birds launched their own counters against an out-of-position Phoenixes team. Taha Zahid Rida conceded a penalty in the 83rd minute by planting himself in Kalki Parvathaneni
's way, and although Bhavya Panigrahi
converted it easily, Kalki would nevertheless be taken off as a precaution, for Wu Jinglong
There would be fireworks yet as Mudaliar finally found a probably non-critical fifth goal, before it was the Birds' turn to create a very ugly moment; Panigrahi probably didn't need to barge Wu Feng Jie into the hoardings as he did, and it would wind up with the Phoenix veteran suffering a clearly broken wrist, and the match had to conclude on an extremely sour note.