TP Open And Close
Hwang Never Too Late
Holland Village club tpyers might not have been able to contain Grilled Birds at their compact if near-packed home stadium today either, but they would claim the distinction of scoring both the first and final goals of the game. That they let in six in between meant that it was, overall, not their day, and Grilled were willing enough to let their hosts have the last hurrah, from their reaction towards Thomas Éloy's strike four minutes from time.
It was hardly as relaxed when they fell behind early on, with the Birds again trying out a central defensive partnership of Aw Keng Chuan
with Damian Hutter
; they were a fully serviceable pair on paper, but the compatibility left something to be desired, even with tpyers not exactly known for their offensive nous. Kwok Ho Shi, their captain and main creator standing off on the left, gave Hutter no end of trouble with his constant plying of the spaces between the lines, and Kwok would wind up clipping a strange-seeming lob off his weaker foot in the eighth minutes, which was just what it took to surprise Dimitris Germanakos
The home fans definitely enjoyed that very much as Germanakos beseeched the heavens in resignation, and this shock lead had young tpyers boss Yeo Kian Kiong consider a change in plans, before apparently signalling to continue as before. It was indeed a little too early for the hosts to start digging in, and in any case the balance would soon be restored - former Bolivian U-20 winger Federico Parada
weighed his options carefully with the ball on his left foot as he brought it across in the 19th minute, before abruptly whipping it hard and low past 17 year-old goalie Kok Yi Ping, for one-one.
Kok, who had played just two professional league matches before today, would have to grow up very fast after taking over partial duties from Italian journeyman Antonio Ramenghini, and his raw potential was made manifest when facing down Chan Ze Han
just two minutes later, where he managed to redirect a likely goal just over his bar. tpyers had Derek Dizon entrust Thomas Éloy on the right with most of their diminishin possession, and Éloy's cross to Kwok about the 25th minute left little to be desired, but for the finish.
The gross direction of play suited Grilled just fine, and a second goal was always coming - and polished off this time by Chan Ze Han
, who set himself magnificently anticipating Egemen Dinçer Ferzan
's assist on the half-hour. There was little that even the tpyers support could raise against such an exemplary example of the striker's arts, but it would be an entirely avoidable misunderstanding between Mo Jia Aik and Jeannot Mergen, that allowed Ibnou Balde
in for the Birds' third in the 36th.
That poach was not enough for Balde to stay on, with Tian taking him off for Orest Tokarz
, and in doing so fulfilling his pledge to provide all his forwards with ample opportunities to prove themselves. Joe Reece
may have to be watching over his shoulder a bit, as the Welshman continued mixing games where he could do little wrong, to ones where his decision-making had to be sorely questioned. Tokarz looked set to score as Reece held it on the right edge of the six-yard box four minutes into the new half, but he inexplicably chose to try and beat Kok at his near post instead.
Grilled were still dictating terms anyway, although there would be a relatively quiet stretch, with Tian directing his midfield to calm it down a tad - not entirely unreasonable given that tpyers had a two-goal deficit to scale. While they wouldn't exactly be too eager to overcommit their 4-3-3 still, the lowered tempo didn't save Damian Hutter
from tweaking his right ankle either. Nobody was near him when he chased a stray ball to prevent a corner in the 76th minute, but this dedication would be his undoing, as he folded his right leg awkwardly underneath himself in making the final stretch.
had come on for Aw not long before this, which meant that the third and final substitution would have to be expended on Hwang Teck Fu
, who stood in for Hutter in defence. Attention would duly be drawn back to the other end, where the Birds were starting to really move it around outside tpyers' box, and Lim An Keng
saw some space open up inside in the 78th minute. Mo barely got a touch on the through pass, and Chan adjusted instantly to bend it around Kok, smooth as could be for his tenth league goal of the season.
The travelling fans were up as one for the ovation as the commentators announced Chan's latest feat, and the players could hardly let the heat just die off after this. Reece attempted to perform some tricks but ended up losing it to Foster Ito, whom he then took out with a petty trip that Polish referee Marcin Samborski couldn't overlook, so a yellow it was. Mohd Marzuki Khairul
then came through for 5-1, and substitute Hwang finally got his first league goal at 21 years old, as he followed up on Chad Thach
's strong header from a corner.
It looked quite bad for the hosts as they teetered on the edge of a total collapse with Grilled's stamina overwhelming them at this juncture, and Chan would tease a hat-trick with a flashy half-turn into a swivel to elude the last man on his next possession, only for Kok to raise the volume with a world-class one-handed stop. Their defence would then scramble it up field as the Birds failed to capitalize, and Thomas Éloy managed to run it past Germanakos on the counter, to give the home fans a better memory to take home.