Pied Near Twice
The Birds would have a reasonably relaxed time of it against Atlethic Pi at Tarpots Rec., as they racked up six without reply against the Pulau Ubin third divisioners. Gilberto Dobmann's side was on a high after winning their first four matches of the season, if including a walkover versus Durian Lovers United on Sunday, but the extra rest would avail them not against a fired-up Grilled team.
An affiliate of Spain's Recreativo saconita, Atlethic Pi have done well to promote twice in their five full seasons in the local league system. The recent departure of young favourites Lee Ming Puay and Umar Yunus has not done much to endear the management to the fans, but the close to S$20 million that the sales brought in would at least be partially reinvested in veteran Dutch goalkeeper Rodney Butselaar and Bulgarian defender Krasimir Velichkov - both of whom would start here today. Former national youth international Max Hsu would stay, at least, and the Number Seven continues looking to bolster his prospects for a senior cap, with more dominating performances.
Or that was the idea, but it was not going to happen today, not against a Birds side at close to full strength. It was seven against seven as Hsu went directly up against Moey Xin Seng
, and despite the fifteen years between the duo, it was clear who had the upper hand for now. Atlethic Pi captain Derrick Jongeneelen and third midfielder Jan-Inge Forsstad were competent, but Grilled had the support flooding in from their forwards, and it was no surprise when they went ahead in the 14th minute, through Chan Ze Han
's thunderbolt from the left.
The Ubiners tried to bite back hard, but this merely resulted in the debuting Elvis Kim flirting with an ignominious ejection, for a very late challenge on Kalki Parvathaneni
; referee Bahrudin Huljev somehow gave him the benefit of the doubt, and left him on with a yellow. The match wore on with Chu Xin Lee
making a rare hash of a block nearly resulting in an equalizer in the 31st minute. Jānis Salmiņš
saved the day then, and it would instead be 2-0 as Kalki fed on Hendrik Hechtermans's indecisiveness, to work his way close enough to put it away.
It was three and lights out a minute over, as Hechtermans found himself misunderstood by Velichkov, which left Bilal Mohammad Harun
to dash into the box unescorted. Abd Hadi Taib Mazhud
was too good to miss such an easy assist, and left Butselaar utterly stranded. Gilbert Webb
then converted a penalty as Huljev spotted a slight handball, and another shot from a reinvigorated Bilal had Heng Dong Chu
hit it just too high from the follow-up.
would change the focus to protecting the lead with the job all but done, but Teo Chuan Yong
wasn't one to just maintain the status quo, after coming on for an under-the-weather Chu Xin Lee
at half-time. There would be a neat one-two with Chan Ze Han
entering the box, and then opening his body well, for the shot curled towards the far post. The goalkeeper got some fingers to it, but couldn't affect it much. Five-nil, Grilled.
This had come after Atlethic Pi had finally managed their first big chance of the game, which arrived after some roughhousing by Salah Kamel
on Forsstad, as the Swedish playmaker threatened to pull away after a dazzling turn. He took the free-kick too, and Spanish foward Javier Echave appeared to have a shot on, but stalled too long in trying to wait for a better option. In the end, he could only manage an easily-handled effort right at Salmiņš.
The sixth and final goal came as Moey Xin Seng
ran onto a through pass to keep his scoring streak going, to which Echave responded with a fine touch on an awkward ball over the top, only to lash it hopelessly high. The ensuing counter saw Derrick Jongeneelen carded for taking Bilal down, and the quick resumption saw Teo's effort headed off the line by national U-20 fullback Shravan Vempalli.
There would be a last hurrah from Kalki Parvathaneni
, who raced through the entire Atlethic defence with five minutes to go, only for Butselaar to pull off an impossible-seeming stop. Vikram Mudaliar
would then replace Abd Hadi for injury time, which was however largely spent by the Birds passing it aimlessly about in defence.