Bolted And Locked Out
The second round of the Singapore Cup saw downtown club Bolto United - just come under new management last month - give Grilled Birds a run for their money in the first ten or twenty minutes, even if the final result of 0-8 Birds was entirely within the usual keeping for this stage. Vikram Mudaliar
, otherwise so prolific, would secure his first hat-trick in three seasons, if eleventh in his career thus far.
There was nothing to read into Bolto's walkover against Marina Bay Sands in the last round, but if league form was to be any hint, successive draws in the fourth division against first Randerform Warriors C.F at the end of last season, and then a tame one-all at Mitch FC on Sunday, did not exactly suggest that they were capable of overthrowing their visitors. Grilled weren't exactly giving this one away either, and other than Mottl and Velho alongside Mudaliar in attack, Yuta Nakakita
in defence and Manuel Vadalà
in goal, the other starters could well have made the first time in their positions.
This included, definitely, Chu Xin Lee
, who made his first appearance of the season after his ugly injury in a friendly, towards the end of last season. Teo Chuan Yong
and Kalle ter Berg
alongside him had little less to prove, and it was thus that Bolto managing to compete on superficially equal terms early on, was so remarkable. Adrian Wong and Goh Long Long together might have been valued not more than a single leg of any of those three, but the 25 year-olds somehow kept Grilled's midfield away for a time.
Not only that, Adrian Wong would record the first indisputable shot attempt of the day, as he wound himself up for Muhd Mohamad's cross in the 13th minute, only to pop the volley high over Vadalà's goalframe. This did signal for the Birds to take themselves more seriously, and they would be 2-0 up by the fifteenth minute - first, Yuta Nakakita
would find the net for the first time since The EV two seasons back, with Mudaliar then polishing Heng Dong Chu
's delivery off, as the hosts gambled a little too much.
Bolto were hardly to be counted out just yet, however, and they were hardly above a little sneaky rough-and-tumble of their own; Wong would elbow Bhavya Panigrahi
hard in the solar plexus without any of the match officials noticing, and had he kept the following long pass under control, the goal would likely have been allowed. Vadalà was quick off his line then, fortunately for the Birds, and Chu Xin Lee
would make a scoring return in the 31st minute, minutes after another spirited shot attempt from Yuta.
The home side's heart could only carry them for so long, especially in a basic 4-4-2, and Grilled would start dismantling their defences in earnest come the second half. With Wu Jinglong
settling into a more passive role today, much of the Birds' attack would come through Heng and Chu on the left side, as the duo willingly forged ahead whenever they had possession. Mudaliar would garner a second again from a Heng assist, as opposing captain Amish Bhagwat found himself thoroughly outclassed whenever the S$16.8 million winger found space to build momentum for a run.
Heng would then go for it himself in the 63rd and 64th minutes, as the Birds switched abruptly to bringing it up through the middle, and Bolto would then successfully stall them right up to the last minute - to be frank, no mean achievement for a club in their situation. Six goals might have seemed a bad thrashing by any measure, but perhaps truthfully better than par given that Ng Ze Sze had been working with only the neighbourhood players that he had inherited.
Grilled Birds were not exactly done, that said, and the arrival of Radovan Jaška
and birthday boy Toma Tamiya
in the last minute of regular time, gave them a kick up the booty. Mudaliar would not pass up the opportunity for a hat-trick when Two Chuan Yong carried the ball through a weary Bolto backline, and a petulant kicking of the ball away after the whistle would see Bolto's Rufus Danh booked, and Toma grab a goal barely two minutes into his competitive debut.