Moey Leads Way
The Birds got back right on track in the S-League, as they extended their good recent record against a struggling Club Dinosauria, with a 5-1 home hammering. The Deinos had entered this fixture yet to claim a point from their first three matches, and The Cooking Pot was probably not the best place to turn this ship around.
Ironically for young club foward-turned-coach Heng Ah Wei, his Deinos squad has continued to be rated as one of their strongest ever, with pundits generally unable to point out specific issues about their lineups. Czech star Ivo Mana has for example been objectively excellent whenever he has gotten onto the ball, and others like former national U-20 midfielder Chew Long Hock have tended to be classed as amongst the best in their role in the league - an opinion which has been echoed by several Grilled players in the past.
In style of play, the visitors would be very alike Grilled Birds too, down to having a striker doubling up out wide with Randolph Chiu; and if that was their biggest weakness, opponents would have cause to be worried indeed. The Birds would stick with what had worked, with Kalki Parvathaneni
on the left again, and while Wu Jinglong
was picked on the right, it was soon clear that he had been instructed to play a tighter and more conservative game.
had evidently decided that Grilled would come good by cautiously playing the percentages today, and so it was as his team mounted successive attacks down the middle, while never quite committing too many bodies forward, in the initial going. This had the Birds hold almost all of the possession for the first ten minutes, and it paid off as Moey Xin Seng
then got the better of Che Zambil Ridwan for once - which was enough for him to crack an ace grounder beyond Florea Răducu.
Club Dinosauria hit back almost immediately, as their newfound resolve to go at the Grilled defensive line worked wonders. The wholesale break forward by all three midfielders appeared more than a little risky, but it came off as Cheah Eng Dong maintained possession from a out-and-out challenge by Bilal Mohammad Harun
. Now with the numbers advantage, the ball would be left for onrushing defender Nawaf Sada to deal with, and the Qatari star exceeded all expectations with a wondrous floater over Jānis Salmiņš
, and into the far corner.
The match then settled back into a duller equilibrium for a time, and this stasis would be enlivened once more only after 23 minutes, as Grilled embarked upon a serious push up the right wing. Mateja Jeftić
would be unwittingly flattened by Cheah Eng Dong in the build-up, but referee Reinhard Tributsch correctly waved play on, as Wu Jinglong
had been released nicely on the touchline. Randolph Chiu caught Wu quite impressively, however, and even managed to prevent the corner by bouncing it back off Wu's legs.
The visitors were growing in confidence as the stalemate extended, but were then brought back down to earth in one fell stroke. It seemed like another pointless, undermanned Grilled foray in the 32nd minute, but attention would perk up as Moey Xin Seng
shifted the ball across Chew Long Hock, before nipping past Ridwan with his next touch. Now with a window to shoot, Moey would strike it hard and true, with Răducu unable to react quickly enough. Two-one.
Deinos' Lech Tarkowski would try to make headway against Grilled's defenders in response, but support wasn't forthcoming this time, and the Birds stayed in the lead at half-time. More would go their way upon the restart, as Tributsch called what looked like a questionable fall by Chan Ze Han
their way, as the forward appeared to run into a planted Nawaf Sada. Club Dinosauria's protests went unheard as the referee stuck with his decision after consulting the replays, and Mateja Jeftić
stared down the goalkeeper, before coolly sweeping the penalty straight down the centre.
Club Dinosauria were beginning to sink into trouble now, as they were beginning to be forced almost wholly on the defensive; their less-than-uplifting recent setbacks could hardly have helped, and there were moments when it was all they could do, to keep Grilled's ravenous strikers out. Chew Long Hock for one did brilliantly to bring Vikram Mudaliar
down entirely legally, in the 69th minute. The Birds were hardly entirely honest themselves, and Kalle ter Berg
would get rightly booked a few minutes later, for a cynical trip on Abd El Rahman Abd El Khalek.
That wouldn't be all bad for Grilled, however, as Deinos tried to make their way back into contention by putting most of their team up for the free-kick, only to have it blocked by the first man. The resulting raid had a riot of players dashing helter-skelter back at the Deinos goal, and it concluded with Wu Jinglong
putting a tantalizing cross into the box, that Gilbert Webb
glanced into the net.
With another loss all but confirmed, the visitors would be basically counting the minutes down after that, and they seemed to have at least made it out without conceding further, as Serpin sent Chu Xin Lee
and Bhavya Panigrahi
on for injury time. Chan Ze Han
was not about to pass up any opportunity to open his league account for the season, that said, and his ambitious dribble in the dying seconds would come good for him.