The reverse league fixture at Psyduck FC Arena flattered the Birds somewhat, as they ran out 3-0 winners despite a largely-flat offensive line. Moey, Kalki and Teo couldn't hide their age as they were mostly reduced to testing John Lowe from afar against the hosts' solid 4-4-2, and it would take some timely assistance from the match officials, to build that comfy lead. Hungarian referee Norbert Révbíró and his linesmen certainly weren't very popular in the area, when they were done.
Having narrowly gone done 2-1 at The Cooking Pot last week, one could hardly fault Wong Pin An from fancying his team's chances at home, as he went with an almost unchanged lineup; central midfielder Lau Kwang Keng would be the only change, as he took over from Pepe Fontanete, while also assuming the captaincy. Grilled Birds likewise stayed with the same starting lineup, although that was perhaps as much due to a lack of credible alternatives, than any particular desire for continuity on Tian Yonghang
This included Paulino Trindade
, whose goal last Sunday appeared to have triggered something in himself. Formerly a tough but somewhat staid presence on the wing, Trindade would instead exhibit a willingness to take risks today, which frankly didn't come off too well against Chew Tian Yeow initially. He persisted, however, and would bag an assist in the 13th minute, as he bent in a hasty cross despite tight marking, in search of a finisher. Moey Xin Seng
offered himself up, with a blockbuster header that gave few clues of his advancing years.
Jonathan Wada could only berate himself for underestimating the threat that Moey continued to pose in the air, and the match restarted with Trindade very much retaining his taste for going forward. The Birds were putting in a great many runs from around Psyduck's penalty area at this point, and Kalki Parvathaneni
remained good for his obligatory skinning of a defender a game. Suhas Prasad's positioning allowed him to cover partially, but Kalki responded by kicking it back for Trindade... only for the winger to sidefoot it inches wide.
The letdown didn't last long as Panigrahi went it himself from the penalty spot five minutes later, after Kalki made the most of minor contact from Bryan Nguyen, on yet another of his incisive dribbles. Panigrahi sent it high down the middle with confidence, as Lowe launched himself to the left. Psyduck then had their best opportunity to reduce in the 28th, but Kok Lee Min curled it marginally wide, after a magical first touch from Chew Tian Yeow took Damian Hutter
out of contention.
There appeared a role reversal between Trindade and Enrique Baena
, as it was the Spaniard left doing the grunt work on the right, resulting in a booking for holding Kok Lee Min back. His comrades seemed to approve, however, and it worked well enough for the Birds here, as Psyduck got barely anything to strikers Jean-Bernard Levillain and Lim Min Yeow. The former did have a couple of possessions inside Grilled's box, but was mobbed each time that happened.
The second half had Chia Kwang Tse
on for Chad Thach
as before, but this didn't help the explosive factor of Grilled's attack much, as they continued to dominate possession only for moves to die with a whimper, in the final third. Egemen Dinçer Ferzan
would find himself eagerly warming up on the sidelines at several instances, but Tian would ultimately decide not to introduce his Turkish signing officially just yet.
Grilled would go up three-nil in any case by the 64th minute, as Enrique Baena
threw himself to the ground dramatically, after having seemingly been successfully herded out into touch by Yaqin Rafiq Atiq. The home fans' outrage at this decision was compounded by Baena apparently having exited the penalty area by the time he took the fall, but Révbíró would stick to his original decision, even after video review. Panigrahi would thus march to the spot amidst a chorus of boos, which didn't affect him in the slightest as he sent it straight into the bottom left corner this time.
Bilal Mohammad Harun
would replace Moey with fifteen minutes to go as Grilled sought a hat-trick for their penalty king, with Gandhik Chitre
chosen as their final sub for Teo, as Ferzan was left looking slightly forlorn on the bench. Still, neither of those changes exactly electrified the attack - even if it did at least move more quickly for a while - and the match would conclude with a fifth straight league victory for the Birds.