No Holding This Door
Two goals would be considered a good return from a single match for most strikers, but for just-turned-twenty Welsh frontman Joe Reece
, this haul against stricken East Coast stragglers Snohodez was more a misgiving about what might have been. For Reece had gotten himself into so many excellent positions through the game that a hat-trick appeared a formality, only for him to mess it up from some quite inexplicable places.
Well, with Snohodez having shipped seven and eight against Phantasm Hotspurs and Mayuyu AKB48 respectively in their previous two games, anything less than that had to be accounted quite inefficient from the Birds, who kept Ibnou Balde
as their starting centre-forward despite minor thigh discomfort. The wing pair of Ferzan and Parada were on show too, though not at their full potential no thanks to the heavy pitch, which the less-charitable might suspect had been encouraged by the groundskeeper. Snohodez captain Leow Jin Shun was definitely not sanguine about his team's chances beforehand, as he expressed a desire to keep the score low - if possible.
That wasn't going to happen with Grilled knowing the importance of piling on the goals when they could, but few would have put Damian Hutter
down as their first scorer, surely. The Austrian defender had gone last season goalless despite starting nineteen of the twenty competitive fixtures available, if to no possible blame as he executed his main duties to his best effort, mostly. However, the call came when he found himself unmarked at the left edge of the six-yard box after four minutes on a drawn-out Birds assault, and his guileless shot was enough to get by Abhishek Kumar then.
Hutter's mates were delighted with his only third-ever league goal for the club, and it did settle Grilled nerves tremendously, after some pretty wayward stray passes by the guys earlier. The goal did steel the hosts too, and they would collapse around their penalty area as tightly as was feasible. To this, the Birds would rely on width to pry Snohodez open, and Federico Parada
would comply with great pleasure. Lin Puay Feng tried to keep up with his twisting dribble in the 13th minute, but one final stepover shook the rightback off, as Parada then tapped it in at the near post.
Chan Ze Han
would work his way into the flow by now, and he would keep up his league scoring streak in the 23rd minute, by way of a flying overhead effort that no 35 year-old had any right to try. Next by Chan was a corner that nobody was shaking Reece off in the 31st, for the fourth goal. It was misery for Reece after that, sadly, as he nearly allowed a cross to buzz past him before putting in a weak header that Kumar saved, and then got played through on a quick free-kick on Lim Wan Kim's booking, only to scoop it wide having drawn Kumar out and rounded him.
The second miss had Reece pummel the mud in irritation, but Tian Yonghang
evidently saw enough in his time on, to take an underperforming Balde off instead for the next half. Orest Tokarz
wasted no time in making his presence known to the unfortunate defenders, and played a big part in the switchover that left Federico Parada
with a free look in the 49th. The Bolivian wasn't paying enough attention as he knocked the ball across goal instead, but it was Hutter's day to hang out in the box, it seemed - and that was five.
Concerns will be raised over Aw Keng Chuan
's sharpness after he was given the run-around by a slippery Leow Jin Shun in the 57th minute, which might have been harmless enough given how far they were from Grilled's goal - only for Aw to hack Leow down at the knees. This had the defender rolling about clutching his right calf as his angry buddies confronted Aw, and Lebanese referee Ayman Kurdi had to be at his diplomatic best, to defuse the situation. Aw somehow escaped with a yellow card, as Sng Ying Yeng took over from Leow, and Hanis Thahir got the armband.
That was also it for Bhavya Panigrahi
, who came off at the next stoppage, for Gilbert Webb
to handle the final half-hour. This soon saw Reece finally find a second goal after repeatedly lighting up the right side, if with Parada springing Snohodez's defence from the other flank. The Welshman would go for a third the next time the ball came to him, which was not appreciated by Chan Ze Han
, who was in an objectively much better position.
The seventh and last goal arrived through Aw, to much unpopularity from the home fans, who remained unamused at how he had crocked their captain. Lim An Keng
came close with a crossbar-shaver next, which more or less spelt the end of the action as Grilled wound their game down with Kalki Parvathaneni
getting a few minutes at the end.