It's Toma Time!
The Birds would stay in Singapore for today's friendly against H.A.L Division Seven club jmj_emmanuel, as they took the team bus up to their The Extra Stadium in Ang Mo Kio. Nearly eight hundred curious spectators would turn up, probably not helped by the oppressive heat, and their reward would be to witness a neat hat-trick by utility man Toma Tamiya
The 25 year-old Toma might have made just nine official appearances for Grilled since coming up through the youth ranks, but he remains a bona-fide S-League winner, courtesy of his start against Haha at the end of Season 78. Still, his career had not quite taken off as expected, as he appeared resigned to being squad filler, in his own words. Injuries to key players have had Tian Yonghang
wary of risking the rest any more than he had to, however, which had Toma start alongside Teo Chuan Yong
and Yee Jian Hui
He would take just four minutes to stamp his mark, as Egemen Dinçer Ferzan
sought to play himself into contention for his first league start. Neither Yang De Su nor Robert Cao matched well with his robust style on the left wing, as the Turkish wide man ran menacingly at them with the ball. The low cross wasn't the best, but the Birds had several men lunging at it, which left Toma Tamiya
to be the one to turn it in at the far post.
jmj_emmanuel were unwilling to be bullied out of the game on their own ground, and striker Josh Shin would go in hard on Atang Mangoye
soon after, as he sought an instant response. That was clearly a foul, however, which had German referee Philip Benner come up with a yellow card, and a stern talking-to besides. There would be a booking too for Yee Jian Hui
ten minutes later, as he attempted an atrocious dive, when following up on Gandhik Chitre
Chitre might have been denied then, but he wouldn't be for much longer, as he put it into the net in the 23rd minute. Ferzan had also been responsible for much of the approach work then, before Aw Keng Chuan
supplied the breakthrough pass. The hosts would raise their game following that, which left no major attempts on their goal until half-time - and quite a while after that.
's taking over from Yee Jian Hui
didn't do too much to bolster Grilled's attack, and neither did Chitre's moving outside for Hwang; Chia Kwang Tse
did seem to cause a bit more of a stir, but with Derrick Chin being one of jmj_emmanuel's better players, his advantage was minimal if any. Indeed, it was the hosts who got the best chances up until the 70th minute, particularly when the debuting Joseph San was put through on the left. His nerve failed him, sadly, and he sent it badly wide, with Manuel Vadalà
at his mercy.
Things only really perked up for Grilled when Moey Xin Seng
entered for a tired-looking Teo, and they were up to three-nil two minutes after that. An accidental-looking charge by centreback Seah Wen into Mohd Marzuki Khairul
had the referee wave play on and see what happened, which was Toma Tamiya
picking up on the loose ball to score. That might have been of some consolation to Marzuki, who would have to leave the game - without replacement - clutching his left calf.
The Birds pulled together despite now being a man down, and after surviving another close shave, this one from an overcooked Josh Shin finish, they would pad their lead further. Moey would step up as Grilled won a penalty for more rough and careless play in the box, and he would place it into the top left corner, leaving goalie Huang Yun Lai blameless. Toma would then complete his hat-trick at the last opportunity, with Chitre finally getting into the groove on the right.