|Season 63||L||4 - 2||Cup|
|Season 59||W||2 - 6||Cup|
|Season 58||L||4 - 3||Tournament (Group Phase)|
Huiet Rallies Villains
Woodlands' Villains F.C. would knock Grilled Birds out of the Singapore Cup, as they had fourteen seasons back in the Sapphire Challenger Cup, despite residing two league levels below Grilled. Also proud former winners of the national honour, the Villains' fortunes have not been the greatest in recent seasons, having dipped to the fourth division not too long ago. However, they have always retained a sense of how to prevail in one-offs, and that and more was on full display today.
Having already eliminated Ramseille Volliard FC, there was really no cause for the Villains to be overlooked, even if they would be without wingback Wong Jian Yew, who had injured his knee in that match. Their defence would take another blow only three minutes into today's game, as former Kuwati youth international Majeed Saad had his left knee buckle, after landing hard following an aerial duel with Bernie Egan
; there was nothing for it, but for a substitution to be made, and Foong Shi Soon would enter for Saad.
With Miroslav Martinič widely recognized as not quite up to Wong too, the commentators couldn't miss that this was the most vulnerable that the Villains' backline had been for some time, Milan Čutka's heroism in goal besides, and they would not take long to be vindicated. Foong would completely misread Moey Xin Seng
's intentions in the eighth minute, which had Kalki Parvathaneni
played in unopposed at the back post - and missing isn't in the Number Ten's vocabulary these days.
Grilled were looking very good indeed, as they continued to target Foong in particular, although the Villains would compensate as time went on. Jens Sletner and Ciprian Huiet made it a policy to have at least one of them keep an eye on central defence, and even if that didn't stop Bernie Egan
from leaving all for dead and nearly scoring in the 23rd, it could well have gone a lot worse. And then, the Villains were back level, as Slovenian forward Timotej Klarič curled a delightful shot into the top corner, from what seemed an unpromising position with his back to goal.
The Birds took it in their stride, and some four minutes later, Kalle ter Berg
had put them back ahead, as he bombed forward from the right. Hints that Villains F.C. were going to be tough customers would multiply as they answered like-for-like, and not merely by opportunism either - they were more than capable of putting Grilled on the back foot for lengthy periods themselves, and while the Birds were fortunate that Vladimír Hanák put it over from close range in the 37th minute, Jens Sletner would keep it on target on their next try, to tie it up 2-2.
Let it not be said that the Birds were lacking in adversity, and they went ahead a third time as the second half restarted. It was Ter Berg again, showcasing his uncanny ability to visualize shooting channels, as he interchanged astutely with Bilal Mohammad Harun
. With both more than capable of threatening from outside the box, it was all Pierre Laurent could do to close one of them down, but that was alas not enough.
's less-admirable side would peek through in the aftermath, as he got into a shoving match with Martinič on ostensibly being held back; Bulgarian referee Nikolay Vúlchkov was certain that it was all in Kalki's head, however, which meant a yellow card - and a suspension against UDNTK FC this Sunday. There was no time to reflect upon that, though, as Villains were hardly done, and it was Ciprian Huiet's turn to sneak a grounder past Jānis Salmiņš
Salmiņš might certainly have done better on that attempt, and his confidence would only take further hits, as Villains would come good on a couple of similarly-pedestrian efforts, later on. Being partially unsighted might have been a possible excuse on letting Bogdan Siczek's shot through in the 72nd minute, though one would still have expected a custodian of his calibre to have expected it. Allowing Gabriel Gallardo's weak tap next was a howler, in contrast, and there was no getting around that.
The Villains would understandably deem a two-goal lead good enough to focus on protecting, and Sletner would duly join Foong in central defence on Julien Picque's express instructions - though that was what he had mostly been doing anyway. Bernie Egan
would give hope of extra time with a riveting solo goal, but there would be nothing remotely close to that from Grilled in the ten minutes that remained.