Ferzan Fast & Furious
The Birds continued their pursuit of the III.1 perch with a resounding 7-2 away victory against Sunrise Treasure FC, which was also their first meeting against the former Titus Titanium IV, who have undergone at least two previous revivals. While none of those have reached the heady heights of the original, against whom Grilled had contested eight fixtures against in the S-League, this latest version has gone some ways towards that, in achieving two successive promotions from Division Five as SunRise Titus IV.
Local boss Ow Yong Dong would preside over their change in name to Sunrise Treasure FC at the end of the previous season, which has however not seen any additional backing from the board; the club had not seen any transfers in for over a year already, after an early buying spree that included Birds trainee Lee Ying Ting, who was not included in their squad for today. Ow would place his emphasis on homegrown wingers Wong Han Loong and Kang Jin Rong, with Italian central midfielder Ermenegildo Densi captaining the young and very much still developing team.
Well, it was not as if this Birds team was that mature either, though Tian Yonghang
would swap out the usual wingers, ostensibly in preparation for his midweek cup commitments. This saw Egemen Dinçer Ferzan
make a return to league play after a month out, and Paulino Trindade
have his first taste of such, for this season. Ha Qicai
would captain the side out, looking every bit like he was born to the role, as the Birds stuck to the wing focus that had served them so well versus Shadow Chaser(R) SC last Sunday.
They would not be disappointed, as their midfield proved itself a couple of levels above their Sunrise Treasure counterparts. Lim An Keng
's passing range had seen evident improvement over the past months, and a particularly cool thirty-yarder out left in the eleventh minute would drop invitingly behind Humberto Dojas, stymying the Colombian wingback's efforts to head it aside. Trindade ran onto it gratefully, and from his raked low cross inside, Phua Ming Xin
lifted it into the roof of the net for 1-0.
The full house at the Alpha Centuari stadium was not too welcoming of this early breach by the Birds, which roused their players to an extent. Densi had a few moments of his own, and a touch of magic would see Joe Reece
booked for contesting referee Marwan Al-Mualla's decision in the 20th minute, after which they seemed to have found Slovenian forward Ian Podlesnikar from the free-kick... only for Ha Qicai
to insert himself. Worse was to come, as Grilled attacked at pace down the left again, which saw Trindade switch it confidently to the other flank, where Egemen Dinçer Ferzan
was lurking. Josip Hawwash was too eager with his attempted tackle, and Ferzan easily sidestepped it, before picking his spot for the second goal.
Ferzan had perhaps been relegated to the background after the arrival of Brian Reddy
, who has become undeniably one of Grilled's first-choice wing selections together with Federico Parada
. The Turk's qualities had not actually diminished, though, and his direct style would be especially effective today, as he bulldozed inside for a third in the 30th minute, to evident approval from Orest Tokarz
. Three minutes afterwards, it was Chad Thach
's turn to earn some attention with a seemingly ill-advised flying volley, but any doubts about the soundness of the strike were shattered as it dipped beyond French goalie Antonin Gélis, thanks to the exceptional spin on the ball.
While Sunrise Treasure had not won since defeating tpyers 4-3 a month ago, this turn of events remained galling to their supporters, who were probably justified in expecting better from their young stars. Their faith would be repaid in part in the 38th, as Trindade was lax in tracking back, allowing Kang Jin Rong to feed Ermenegildo Densi for 4-1. The home support wouldn't have much time to gloat, however, as Mohd Marzuki Khairul
smashed Grilled's fifth home on the restart.
The first half ended on a dramatic note as the hosts threatened another reducer, with German leftback Steeven Thomann delivering a very good corner kick in the 41st, soon after Phua had received a yellow card for trying to delay another Sunrise Treasure free-kick near the corner flag, to no avail. Densi's attempted finish would instead loop over to the near post, where Quek Kiong Hao couldn't stick it in. Play would be stopped as Humberto Dojas was next to be booked for an off-the-ball foul on Aw Keng Chuan
, who was happy enough to milk the inadvertent-seeming stomp on his left ankle for all it was worth.
Grilled played keep-ball to see the half out, and with a four-goal advantage, Tian would have to be very much justified in keeping the heat down if he could. Still, his players were not about to pass up the opportunity to distinguish themselves against their bold but slightly tactically-naive opposition, and Ferzan would achieve a career landmark in the 55th minute. The 24 year-old had never been known as a scoring type, but from how he overran Thomann to blast his hat-trick goal in off the near post, that might be changing soon!
Ferzan aside, Phua Ming Xin
was out to build his reputation too, and the Number Nine is surely well on his way at just 21 years of age. While not yet possessing a signature move, Phua's flexibility in finding a solution might be frightening enough on its own, as when he dodged Dojas before pulling up before Quek, to sweep Grilled's seventh home next. If it was any consolation to the home fans, they would come good from their corner in the next minute, with Greek midfielder Naoum Kanelakis pouncing on the rebound, after Josip Hawwash had his initial glanced header parried by Dimitris Germanakos
wasn't happy at his defence for giving Kanelakis that much freedom, and the Hong Kong defender would have a lot more to complain about, as the Birds became positively careless on the defence. Nobody picked Eugeniusz Aleksiejew up as he dribbled inside in the 59th minute before missing, and Aw's exit for Damian Hutter
during the stoppage did not improve the situation much. Densi, who had been one of Sunrise Treasure's best for the day, would lay on an astounding drive from the left edge of the six-yard box that had Germanakos well beaten in the 64th, leaving Grilled to be bailed out by an uncooperative far post.