An August End
Random Curiosity had won eleven of their thirteen league matches this season before today, and nobody but the most-optimistic - or some might say, deluded - Birds fan could have expected them to be stopped at The Cooking Pot. While a draw would have been sufficient to secure automatic promotion back to the top flight, that would have taken a titanic effort at self-restraint from the visitors. Ultimately, it would be a repeat of the 5-0 that Curiosity had inflicted in the season opener, which was a fair enough reflection of the game.
Club Dinosauria and Arcturules had shown that a disciplined five-man backline could hold Curiosity with some luck, but this was never what the Birds had been comfortable with. -= Manchester United =- had beaten them in the Singapore Cup thanks to the firepower of former Jordanian youth international Sam Qasem Layous and Sim Chin Chi, and while Grilled might have some remnants of such, they did not have the requisite supply lines set up. Moey Xin Seng
seemed to have accepted as much as he bantered with fellow skipper Mateusz Wentowski as they waited for the kick-off, which saw Falagh Hatami Nia launch it at Dimitris Germanakos
Curiosity could afford to be a little flamboyant, as they soon established themselves in midfield. As before, the Birds would hold out for the initial half-hour or thereabouts, but perhaps more due to Curiosity taking their time, than any true defensive conviction on their own end. Nia should have opened in the tenth minute had he been a step quicker onto Lars Eng's sudden breakaway cross from the right, and Albanian national wing star Ujkan Kurmaku would then fire straight into Germanakos, as he glided past Bhavya Panigrahi
to the inside.
That save brought some part-ironic cheers from the home loyalists, who were enjoying the day while they could. They understood what was coming, of course, as Curiosity tightened the screws. Enrique Baena
was having a particularly bad time of it against the deceptively-quick feet of veteran Lars Eng, who finally broke the deadlock with a drilled strike from the right flank. Germanakos would recover to claim a floated free-kick two minutes later, but Baena would then be forced into a professional foul on Eng, which had Ang Sze Tze make it 2-0 on the advantage played.
Finnish referee Mikko Siika-aho was not letting Baena escape a booking depite that, but he would throw the Birds a bone in the 52nd minute too, with a penalty award for what seemed like a very soft foul on Bilal Mohammad Harun
, by chasing Cypriot international Giannos Giangou. Panigrahi placed the ball on the spot and hit it hard to the left with Aurelio Mestroni barely moving from the line... only for it to brush the outside of the goalpost for a sad miss.
The fans knew that this was probably Grilled's best hope not to end up with a zero from this match, and in this they would be proven right. Grilled were barely a threat for the rest of the game, despite Chan's best efforts, and Ujkan Kurmaku would have Curiosity three up, as he interchanged with Falagh Hatami Nia on the left. Nia and Zahreddine would be off in a jiffy at that, as Curiosity gaffer Michelangelo Del Riccio sought to protect their legs. Reserve players Ingvi Grétarsson and Remmelt Stips would come on, with slightly less than half an hour to go.
They had barely started to jog, however, when Swiss star striker Manuel August had it at 4-0, straight from the restart. Aw Keng Chuan
had not been at fault for the previous goals, but his allowing Han De Yeng's flicked through pass to go through, would doom his defence. Both Webb and Panigrahi were otherwise occupied as August seized upon the falling ball, and Germanakos would be beaten on the advance.
Moey Xin Seng
would not have to see out the loss, as he made way for returning teammate Kalki Parvathaneni
, in the 80th minute - not that Kalki would have any better fortune against Wentowski. Gandhik Chitre
then had his three minutes of exposure as Bilal made his farewells too, which was just in time for August to pop a Kurmaku cross home, at the near post.