EF Get Better
Chia Sees Red
It was hardly doubted that Grilled Birds would claim all three points at 6th Avenue Block, but EF City would show plenty of pluck to improve substantially from last Sunday's 0-8 drubbing. Despite no change in personnel on their end, the margin of victory would be halved with several eye-catching attacks mounted by the hosts, although strangely lackadaisical finishing from the Birds had some to do with it too.
The Birds largely kept to what had worked too, with the major switch being national U-20 midfielder Chia Kwang Tse
starting in place of Hwang Teck Fu
, although it would turn out to be less than a stellar outing for him. There was little evidence that EF City would come out better than they had last week in the early going, as Grilled entered their winning flow quickly enough. Federico Parada
was one of the few who arguably faced more than his match in Yip Li Rong, but the Bolivian didn't have to take him head on when he filtered inside in the 15th minute, just in time to curl one beyond Saliman Wahid.
Chan Ze Han
's fifteenth league goal for the season followed in short order, with entire banks of the visitor's stands bowing in adulation at the quality of the final chip, moreover executed under quite pressign circumstances with Leong Kiong Wei breathing down his back. Chan's form would dip as he spurned a good free-kick opportunity in the 33rd, before ringing an easy tap-in off the post 39 minutes in. As for Parada, he would come under massive trouble whenever Yip ran against him with the ball, which resulted in a 35th minute booking.
The first half concluded with a third for the Birds with Egemen Dinçer Ferzan
popping up at the right moment concurrent with Parada making a run for it on the left, which had the two wingers acknowledge each other for a touching snapshot. This led into what would be the hosts' first big chance of the day, with former national youth forward Tay Kang Kok flinging himself at Yip's dropping cross from the right. Dimitris Germanakos
appeared slow to react, but got himself across to make the save, just barely.
The usual half-time swaps saw Orest Tokarz
and Gilbert Webb
in, and the former would find himself in hot water soon enough, as his robust playing style saw him manhandle his defender once too often, which had referee Steven Conn finally show him the game's second yellow card after successive warnings. Chad Thach
then made it 4-0 from a simple-enough central attack, as Joe Reece
endured another mediocre day at work, flashing it just over with just Wahid to beat, and that after giving up a soft yellow for petulance.
It was time for EF City's moment of glory, and nothing less than they deserved, after working the flanks without complaint for so long. Leftback skipper Teoh Rong Da overlapped Lim Chang Tse as the latter drew Aw Keng Chuan
aside, and that opening was all Teoh needed, to drill the ball forward for Reid Shim. Chad Thach
tried a recovery tackle, but came up short as Shim sprang forward at the critical instant, and he then opened his body well to pass it around Germanakos.
City's fans were in full voice at that, and even more as Chia became the fourth Grilled player to be booked, after trying too hard to hold up a free-kick. It could have gotten way crazier as they mounted a blazing-fast three-on-three counter with Yip leading the charge, after Aw Keng Chuan
's attempt got gathered up by Wahid. It was again Shim who was entrusted with the finishing blow, but he would clip it wide with Germanakos again well beaten.
Grilled's Greek custodian had some choice words with his defence for that, and it never quite picked up for the Birds at the other end either, with EF City instead now asking all the questions. Most would have expected City to perhaps get another as Chan was replaced by Kalki Parvathaneni
in the final minute, but there would be one last twist in the tale here - Reece rounded Wahid in injury time as the Birds broke through on the right, only to have it stopped on the line by Ozora Kuromiya... who couldn't prevent Orest Tokarz
from bulldozing it home for 5-1.
Not even that was the end of the story, however, as the cameras panned back to the centre of the pitch, where Chia had started a fracas with Yaseen Fitri Helmi, after feeling that he had been unfairly barged by the City playmaker in the build-up. They would be separated by their teammates before it came to blows, but Conn would take a dim view of such behaviour nevertheless, which meant a second yellow for the youngster.