Sutrisno Turns Heads
While their string of fifteen straight competitive victories had just ended against Kampung Reunited in the league on Sunday, that hardly diminished III.8 challengers Forever Black Plum's stomach for their Singapore Cup third round clash against Grilled Birds. Newly-appointed Italian head coach Pier Giorgio Marastoni held little back in throwing down the gauntlet in the build-up, and for a brief moment, it seemed as if the Plums might actually make a real fight of it. That bright patch wouldn't last, though their Indonesian right forward Irfan Sutrisno would be unmissable when he was on the pitch.
The management of Forever Black Plum had been in charge of several past incarnations of the club under the Poseidonium name, the most prominent of those possibly a roughly seven-season tenure beginning thirty years ago, in which they won two Division Four trophies. A spin-off dubbed Posei and a rebranding as Cat Mountain International wouldn't do much to retain interest in the venture, but the latest revival has already repeated their past success within four full seasons.
Plums' achievement had undeniably been achieved in spite of a relative lack of star power, as cruelly highlighted by Kampung Reunited on Sunday; a hopeful pressing 4-5-1 by Plum was simply overwhelmed by the title favourites, and there was no hint that they could fare any better against a serious Grilled selection. Sutrisno, a million-dollar signing from Jarkarta's She-Kill FC, was indisputably the highest-quality player in their squad, and he would more than live up to that reputation in the ensuing happenings.
Heng Dong Chu
would have to be worries about his status in the Birds hierarchy, after a 36 year-old Wu Jinglong
was again picked to start over him after playing on the weekend, but this was frankly warranted from the duo's respective forms. Marastoni had evidently decided that there was no point in trying to contain Grilled, especially after Sunday's experience, and Plum were lively enough going forward. The first big chance would go against them as an inexperienced Gerardo Minoodt attempted to dribble his way out of trouble in his own box, and Wu would snap it just wide after the Belgian youngster pushed it a bit too far on his last touch.
There would not be too large of a reaction as Chan Ze Han
gave the Birds the lead in the 17th minute after Wu got a cross in against Chau Yong Ming, and to the Plums' credit, they were mostly holding their own otherwise. Polish winger Patryk Gąsiewski would be quite productive from deep, getting a fair number of forty-yarders into fair positions in Grilled's penalty area, one of which would be met by Sutrisno's forehead at full tile, after Bhavya Panigrahi
failed to cut it out. The power behind that header was considerable, and took it into the net despite Manuel Vadalà
getting a touch on it.
The Plum supporters were ecstatic at the equalizer, and not even Grilled's follow-up strikes could dampen their ardour for awhile. But retaliate Grilled did, with Panigrahi making amends in the 34th minute with a banger after streaming in from the right flank. Chan would then have his second goal from another well-worked advance through te middle, which was followed by Gilbert Webb
making it 4-1. At this, Wu Jinglong
would be ordered to make way for Heng Dong Chu
by Eren Serpin
, with a view towards conserving his legs.
Panigrahi's troubles weren't done with as he went on to put a penalty - that Wu would probably have taken, had he remained on the field - straight to Plum custodian Alessandro De Geronimo, which allowed them a rare counterattacking opportunity with only Webb on the halfway line. Sutrisno would make himself available as Uthman Hilmi dribbled most of the way, and the Indonesian hotshot then placed his drive accurately at the far post.
Given that Sutrisno had been Plum's greatest hope through the first half, it was hard to figure out why Marastoni replaced him with the want-away Daniel Choo at half-time, and the only reasonable explanation would appear to be Sutrisno having picked up a knock. The implications were entirely predictable, as Plum's attack lost its biggest threat, with Choo being as ineffective as Sutrisno had been inspiring. With that, trouble would begin to seek the Clementi side out proactively, and form player Kalki Parvathaneni
burst past Luigi Giustacchini to make it five, four minutes into the second half.
That was Serpin's signal to rest Chan Ze Han
too, and the Grilled icon would go off for José Luiz Velho
, who had just turned thirty. This would give Plum some much-needed respite, but not for too long or too much. Chu Xin Lee
would chip De Geronimo for 6-2 on a flowing Grilled move in the 59th minute, and Velho would go on to score for the first time in three seasons on a defensive lapse, immediately after Óscar Miró had been subbed out for Goh Yau Chi.
Goh for his part would last barely twelve minutes before sustaining a bruised thigh and having to leave before full-time, leaving Plum a man down as they had used their last substitution on Rafał Biczak. However, given that Chu had made it 8-2 by then, this was never going to affect the outcome anyway, and Kalki would sneak one more goal through, before Louis Vara
was given an airing in the final minute.