Down From The Clouds
Cloud Palace had been one of III.1's designated punching bags together with fellow semipros Oceans 1q, but today's 0-7 against the Birds had to be particularly devastating. Temperatures rose throughout the game at The Cooking Pot - and not merely due to the weather, as Chan Ze Han
shot to the top of the scoring charts with a merciless display of creativity in finishing.
With HEBFC Tonners FC and Merlion F.C. having hit eight past them in the previous two league rounds, pundits were expecting little different in this visit of theirs to Jurong, and they would be right. Ang Shi Yeow put up a brave face as he shook hands with fellow captain Chan Ze Han
at the start at kickoff, but it wouldn't be eight minutes before Chan got his day going, connecting solidly with a dipping cross by Egemen Dinçer Ferzan
to power it unstoppably past Hasnain Abdul Muadz Izzul.
Ferzan was having a rather good day of his own too, and the Turkish winger would finally open his goal account on his tenth appearance with Grilled, another eight minutes on. The visitors were being run absolutely ragged, and Kee Lai Choon's despairing tackle didn't even get close to Ferzan, as he slotted it under Izzul. Chan bewildered Leong Cheng Hui for 3-0 on the Birds' next attacking sequence, and Ferzan nearly kept up with a cannon to the post, in the 23rd minute. The winger's near miss would be to Moey Xin Seng
's benefit, however, as the resulting free-kick trickled through to the ever-ready senior striker.
Chan Ze Han
would complete the fifth hat-trick of his glittering career in just the 24th minute, racing straight through, although that was remarkably the last goal that Palace gave up for the half. Part of it might have been down to some slight mercy from the Birds, who toned things down a notch or two, despite their wide men maintaining an admirable urgency. Ferzan and Baena kept on pumping 'em in from outside, but Palace had numbers on their side in their penalty area.
Half-time saw Mohd Marzuki Khairul
and Moey Xin Seng
give way for Chia Kwang Tse
and Bilal Mohammad Harun
, both of whom looked eager enough to get in on the goalfest. It would be Kalki Parvathaneni
's turn to drive the play alongside Chan, however, and he would ration his pace for a lapse in concentration by the Palace defence, which didn't take too long to come. No-one else reacted readily to Lim An Keng
's probing pass in the 51st minute, and the challenging angle didn't keep Kalki from squeezing it in at the near post.
It would be Chan and Kalki to spray shots at Izzul for the next twenty minutes, but there would be no joy for awhile, with the Palace goalkeeper earning some props with a reaction stop from Kalki's sharp header in the 75th minute. The pressure told from the ensuing corner, though, as Chan gave Choo Jian Long the slip with a convincing flick of the head, and prodded what would be Grilled's seventh and final goal into the net.
There would be pain to come for the visitors, with their captain Ang then caught mid-interception by a marauding Baena, who clipped Ang's ankle heavily for a yellow card. Ang would be replaced by Abd Hadi Abdul Manaf for the remaining time, with Seow Lee Xin granted the armband. Tian Yonghang
would send Gilbert Webb
on for Bhavya Panigrahi
during the stoppage, with the last major chance of the match being Kalki flashing one across goal; Izzul was up to it with a fast pair of hands, sadly.