Grilled Birds earned a home draw against Pulau Ubin visitors CE Sindiket 07 today, which had to be accounted a worthy achievement, after they had been crushed 0-7 in the reverse fixture. The fans certainly saw it that way, from how they reacted at the final whistle. Sindiket boss Demétrio Vieira made just the one change from his previous conquering XI, omitting the non match-fit Paul Baumont, and instead playing Argentine Esteban Cainzos on the right wing. As it happened, Cainzos wouldn't last the full game, as he was dismissed after a less-than-convincing struggle against Teo Chuan Yong
While Tian Yonghang
admitted that his side remained rank underdogs, he would also commit to securing a more-respectable result, and Teo's repositioning would be part of that strategy, given Bilal's ineffectiveness at holding ground in the clubs' last meeting. Bilal would instead be moved forward, with Paulino Trindade
given the responsibility of guarding Hennes Silverman on the other flank, and Enrique Baena
relegated to the bench - possibly partly as censure for recent indiscretions. Aw Keng Chuan
would also be available to start this time, which pundits had regarded as important in protecting the Birds' defence.
All that strategizing didn't appear to help much, sad to say, as Grilled found themselves behind after barely three minutes, though that might have had as much to do with Malachi Takahashi's prodigious individual skill, as any failing on their part. The former youth international forward would take Nello Di Buono's pass from the channel lightly on his right boot, before spinning past a shocked Gilbert Webb
, and chipping Dimitris Germanakos
before he could react.
The home support had to fear the worst after that, but the Birds' robust response would gradually return hope to the stands. Aw's inclusion did indeed lend the midfield an anchor that it had sorely lacked before, which in turn provided the team a base on which to build. Lim An Keng
and Mohd Marzuki Khairul
were pressing their assignments closely too, and this built into a legitimate breakdown through the centre, fifteen minutes in. Moey Xin Seng
drew Ceri Shaw with him as he peeled off wide, leaving a brief window - promptly exploited - for Bilal Mohammad Harun
to enter from the left, and score.
Batrić Rabrenović could possibly have done better on that, but there would be no preventing Chan Ze Han
's show-stopper, another fifteen minutes later. With Grilled ekeing an advantage out in overall possession, there would always be opportunities, but perhaps only Chan in this Birds team could have taken on two defenders and stroked it into the far corner, this effortlessly. Unfortunately, this lead would last but slightly more than a minute, as Silverman hit a perfect cross from deep, that Polish striker Hilary Grych took on the fly. That was two-all, and how it stayed for a long time.
Aw would hog the ball a little more than necessary with the visitors not particularly eager to harry him, but as the minutes ran down, there would be a rising sentiment that one side or the other would have to make a go of it. Sindiket appeared content to wait for their break, which went badly for them when Moey Xin Seng
's attempted header inside their box in the 72nd minute, would be met by Stefan Hartmann's raised boot. The want-away Austrian midfielder protested Gerhard Schröttner's call of dangerous play, but to no avail as Bhavya Panigrahi
stepped up to the spot, and lured Rabrenović the wrong way.
Grilled were regrettably just not holding their leads today, as for all of Trindade's admirable shadowing on his flank, Hennes Silverman was just too good to deny indefinitely. The Swiss winger had just too many tools in his box for Trindade to stick to him, which happened to be a mistake as Silverman went for the dribble in the 74th minute. Adam Abd El Hamid received the sharp pass and made as if to shoot, before returning it back to Silverman - who had continued his dash - for the finish. 3-3.
The tension would snap a few minutes later, as Moey got the ball under control some ways from Sindiket's penalty area and made to retreat, only to be caught late by Cainzos. This had Teo Chuan Yong
running up to confront the Argentine, only to be intercepted by Malachi Takahashi in turn. Before the match officials could intervene, more and more players were getting involved, and the fracas would take some minutes to sort out. This would finally be settled with several players getting a long lecture, and original culprit Cainzos sent off.
That looked slightly harsh given the actual challenge, but that was the decision, which left Sindiket very much on the back foot and angling for a draw. Alas, the Birds had chosen a bad time to run short on ideas, and a hobbling Moey would be replaced with José Luiz Velho
in a last-ditch effort to find something. It would instead be Grych to nearly steal it in injury time, though he thankfully failed to hit his mark from six yards.