Grilled Birds 2 - 3 FC Pires
League, Season 8308 January 2023 04:30 HTT
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Grilled BirdsFC Pires
Chan Ze Han (25)
Aw Keng Chuan (87)
Mazin Nabil Al-Fazary (56)
Leonidas Yalán (82)
Erik Holoubek (84)

Season 83L6 - 0League
Season 67W1 - 10League
Season 67W5 - 0League

Lions Biteback
Birds Go Aww

Grilled Birds appeared headed for a good day out at home by the end of the first half, but it turned out that Merlion F.C. were merely waiting to unleash their full power. The tactical nous of the Merlions' Croatian gaffer Miljenko Mohorović might have been the biggest takeaway from the match, as he parlayed an ultra-defensive tack - entirely opposite what they had done last week - to take three points from The Cooking Pot.
It was not that the home fans were too sanguine about their chances either, after last week's 0-6 humiliation, but the announcement of a 5-2-3 by the visitors before kick-off did provide some slim hope of salvation. Doncho Cuculov would act as sweeper in what was usually a flat back five, with Adaílton Azulão and Massimo Branchitta tasked with doing double duty down the wings. Tian Yonghang stuck with what he knew best for the Birds, who frankly didn't have the personnel to try much else either.

Far better Grilled teams had been smashed on the counter, as the supporters well knew, and the Merlion travellers weren't shy about rubbing in their domination from the previous Sunday either. They wouldn't have too much to sing about soon enough as the Birds made quite a lot of their possession, and it would be only some excellent individual defending, that had the Merlions keep from going behind.

This held until the 25th minute, when Egemen Dinçer Ferzan set off on a great run slicing in from the right side, and connected smoothly with Bilal Mohammad Harun's lay-off from a difficult position. Pierre-Charles Tournebize seemed to have barged Ferzan off it rather more roughly than allowable under the laws of the game, but Costa Rican referee Evangelino Wong turned a blind eye, until alerted by linesman Benoît Ayache. To Wong's credit, he was willing to admit his oversight, and Chan Ze Han winged it flat over the wall, then in off the far post.

This was Chan's eleventh league goal of a very productive season, but the Birds would not have much time to rest on his laurels here; the admonished Merlions would embark on two notable counterattacks within the next seven minutes, the first from another of Chan's free-kick takes, which wound up at the other end and crashed off the crossbar by Erik Holoubek within ten seconds. Bilal then had a gifted chance from Christian Schaul's mad backpass, but he couldn't decide whether to pass or shoot, and Chan had to torture himself into a passable curler on target. Tournebize would race to attack the box late on the return, and Dimitris Germanakos had to be at his best, to make the stop.

Being in the lead at half-time, even if by the single goal, suited the Birds just fine, especially with Chan Ze Han constantly collecting shots on target at a frightening clip. He had a superb header nicked aside by Jānis Zariņš six minutes before the break, in face, and after Moey dug a chip just over in the 51st minute, Chan would bedazzle the Merlions backline to nearly complete a solo wondergoal, in the 55th. That indirectly led to the Birds' downfall, unfortunately, as Azulão swooped in to dispossess him at the last moment - and Mazin Nabil Al-Fazary converted Saad Khasawneh's pass inside to equalize on the Merlions' successful breakaway.

The game then got bogged down for close to half an hour, with Grilled just realizing how vulnerable they were in such situations, and the visitors unwilling to take over the initiative just yet. Tian Yonghang would introduce his subs one after another, with Kalki, Webb and finally Gandhik Chitre arriving for Moey, Panigrahi and Bilal respectively. None of this provided the kick that the team was begging for, however, with young midfielders Lim An Keng and Chia Kwang Tse long out of ideas.

The Merlions then made their move, timed to perfection, with ten minutes left, as Mohorović watched on in satisfaction from the dugout. Not having attempted any serious foray without Grilled overextending before this, it was unsurprising that they caught the Birds by surprise, when they basically converted to a 3-4-3. With their wingbacks now staying advanced, the Birds were under inexorable pressure, and an oversight by a barely match-fit Gilbert Webb saw Leonidas Yalán breeze past for 2-1, in the 82nd minute.

As if that were not enough, the Merlions would quickly add a third, as Grilled reacted much as they had expected in trying to recover immediately from the kick-off. Chan Ze Han was far too obvious a target by now, and he had no chance with Schaul climbing way over him, as Lim's searching pass fell. The Birds' defenders were far less authoritative when the Merlions' own long ball came, and Holoubek would get in on the right side of Damian Hutter, to position himself well for the chest-down and strike.

Grilled Birds were not about to give up the fight in front of their diehards, and when Chia went down after a clear hack to his right ankle by Patrick Holtzem in the 86th minute, he would stagger back up to take the free-kick without delay. This was enough to lend Grilled the edge that they had been lacking before, with Kalki getting enough on the tap forward, to send Aw Keng Chuan through. Aw appeared to lose control on his charge for an instant there, but pulled himself together to nick it past Zariņš.

A draw seemed possible even now, and the visitors certainly recognized that, from how they behaved in the few minutes remaining. First, Massimo Branchitta would go down under light contact from Hutter, which had Grilled's Austrian Number Twelve furious, and Branchitta booked. That did eat up some precious seconds, however, and Mohorović would stick the foot in, with a slow triple substitution right before the end of regular time.

    N P In Extra
    Last Best West
    Out Of Our Hands
    Lions Biteback
    Survival Six To One
    Prince Of The Bernabéu
    Moynaq Blowout
    Chua Samba In Jamaica
    Birds Of A Feather
    New Year, New Goals
2016-08-01 00:37:41
anonymous: Thanks for the special mention :) I would just like to expre...
2015-08-17 18:50:02
anonymous: excellent read as always!- Yjorn
2015-06-13 03:08:41
anonymous: Rasha say
2014-12-14 16:56:39
gilbertlim: well, it seemed like that.
2014-12-12 18:26:33
anonymous: I didn't play a 4-5-2
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