Moe In Song
It was the first time that Grilled Birds had encountered the national forwards of Moeinsingapore, and it ended badly for that in Pasir Ris, with the hosts flaring up the a worthy 4-2 victory, with little of luck surrounding the result. The Birds were hardly all that poor either - it was just that whatever they did, Moeinsingapore did better.
Still, few could have imagined this as the outcome from their tame 0-3 loss to Ramseille Volliard FC last weekend, but it turned out that they were a different beast at home. Their most popular player was, without a doubt, 22 year-old Abhishek Gupta, who has earned 36 caps with the national U-20 team after rising through the ranks. Chris Ma and Chua Chu Meng have represented the senior side proper, but are relatively-recent and very-expensive acquisitions.
Indonesian referee Hadi Pangestu got the match going, and it soon became evident that this was a different Moeinsingapore from before. Their work rate was incomparable, to begin with, boosted by the defensive pair of Juan Camilo Rengifo and Jonas Soppa staying narrower. This, it turned out, was wise given that the Birds had abandoned width too, from Shekar Kannan
being tasked to operate on the inside for once. The first clear chance fell to Argentine midfielder Camillo Demetri, who had started despite aggravating his back injury in the cup on Wednesday; he found the bar.
The Birds, while being held back by the home team's workrate, were not without chances of their own either, and a particularly excellent one came by in the 27th minute with Vikram Mudaliar
swanning through the middle. Teo Chuan Yong
twisted one side and then another with Demetri onto him, and found just enough space to slip one hard into the box. Mudaliar timed his run perfectly, and helped it on past Dariusz Rzepkowski with his left.
On balance, Moeinsingapore remained the ones creating more, however, and their moment would come right before half-time. They had simply too much running in their boots for the Birds to contain them indefinitely under siege, and Bhavya Panigrahi
's take on relieving it by stepping up to intercept Farnoud Alizadeh, would backfire horribly. Alizadeh was far faster than Panigrahi gave him credit for, and after rounding the Grilled man, he would pick out a supporting Jonas Soppa in the six-yard box for an easy equalizer.
It quickly turned into 3-1 for the hosts, as a dazed Grilled side failed to come to grips with the changed circumstances anywhere near quickly enough. Still holding on to mistaken perceptions of their intimidation factor, they pushed hard from kick-off and were handily repelled, leading to Paco Pimentel lashing a superb half-volley in just under the bar. A bit later and it was Gupta sending it past Jānis Salmiņš
with the slightest of finishing touches, to have the fans on their feet.
seemed to have been considering whether to make his subs on Pimentel's goal, but they would come after the break as usual, with Salah Kamel
and Heng Dong Chu
sent on to salvage the situation as best as they could. Kamel wouldn't take long, really, and his first run with the ball led to him feeding Chan Ze Han
just inside the box, but the Number Eleven bent it slightly wide for once, to the audible disappointment of the Grilled supporters behind the goal.
Not only that, Moeinsingapore would go further up just two minutes later, and for once there was no defensive error to blame. Chua Chu Meng simply leapt higher than could reasonably be expected as Pimentel drove one in high from the right, and not even Douglas Carapaica
being in the right position could throw him off by much. Indeed, the header coming off his shoulder merely served to fool Salmiņš, who couldn't check his approach in time to adjust to the changed trajectory.
They didn't have it all their way, that said, and they will miss Polish first-choice custodian Dariusz Rzepkowski for some weeks, after he suffered a dislocated shoulder in bravely going in at Abd Hadi Taib Mazhud
in the 63rd minute. Luigi Confalonieri replaced him after a lengthy break, and would be immediately tested - if badly - by Moey Xin Seng
Moeinsingapore never looked like letting their considerable lead slip in all honesty, and they might have scored another two in short order, with both Gupta and Chua missing high by inches after fierce raids on Grilled's goal. Teo Chuan Yong
then would receive the second and last booking of the day - after Chris Ma in the first half - as he barely coped with anchoring the midfield against the hosts' turbo-charged play.
Grilled were not to be entirely denied, at least, as they secured a second consolation in the 83rd minute, with Moey doing much better on this opportunity. Chan Ze Han
, so adroitly marked by Rengifo for much of the game, would finally get the better of the defender with a tasty bait-and-switch for his captain. Of course, it made no difference to the final outcome, with the crowd singing praises of Moeinsingapore head coach Jiří Rajtoral towards the end.