Bengs Do Better
Ranta Keeps Up Tradition
It might have been nine seasons since Grilled Birds last played Ah Beng FC - and in a cup final at that - but the Hollanders have yet to find a proper response to their bogey team, it seems. Despite being ranked above the Birds in II.1, they didn't manage to make this anywhere near competitive after the first half, although it remained their best showing against Grilled ever - which wasn't saying much.
That Ruby Challenger Cup final had seen Bhavya Panigrahi
collect a hat-trick, but the 41 year-old would only make it to the bench today, with Tian Yonghang
selecting Lim An Keng
over him as Damian Hutter
's partner in defence. Chan Ze Han
would be present, having scored in both prior matches against Ah Beng FC, although German Number One Bennie Heidekorn would probably be as good as they ever had in goal. Swiss head coach Antoine Spiess had the Bengs in a tapering 3-4-3, with respectable width at the back concentrating into an explosive young trio at the formation's tip.
Grilled's answer to that was not to allow their opponents any time on the ball if they had any say in it, and their cause would be bolstered by a spectacular early dribble from Egemen Dinçer Ferzan
, who left both Vyacheslav Shershukov and Primo Maier in his wake, in the third minute. That left the Beng's entire right side in shambles, and as the rest of their nearby players tried to adjust, Ferzan had looped it into the middle for a charging Lim An Keng
, who blasted a wicked volley just outside Heidekorn's reach.
The aftermath had Kevin Laa down Hutter in an ugly striker's challenge as he tried to make the difference, and the fixture would then go off the boil for the next half-hour, as Grilled felt able to take their time. Their willingness to play the ball back whenever danger beckoned was simplicity in extremis, and no less effective for that. Actual commitments were few and far between, as was the string of quick passes about the 37th minute, that had Lim's drive to the right post barely tipped around by Heidekorn.
Ah Beng FC were not getting many opportunities to express themselves, but they made full use of what they created in the 41st, when Kevin Laa found himself clattering into Aw Keng Chuan
in the box. Before any appeals could be made, however, Kasperi Ranta had gotten on the loose ball, and lashed it beyond Germanakos. Sadly for the Bengs, Paulino Trindade
would force Grilled back into the lead right before half-time, in a sequence that also had Eugenio Schupbach retrospectively booked for a late tackle on Hwang Teck Fu
, having lost out to the Grilled battler.
Hwang continued on his high into the next half, and the following goal for 3-1 would be his, as the Birds continued steering the direction of the game onto their terms. Florin Sofian had been holding them off well, but there was nothing to be done when Hwang coursed through seven minutes in, right as Ibnou Balde
released it for him over a couple of yards. Cuban skipper Fidel Echenique tried to come across to help block, but Hwang had it in the net long before he got close.
Chan Ze Han
passed the armband to Lim An Keng
upon departing in the 75th minute, his job done, but also just in time to miss Gandhik Chitre
's fourth - as the Bengs appeared to suffer from a lack of belief. Sofian's yellow card for petulance in response will further see him out of Sunday's league match against UDNTK FC, a complication that Spiess definitely didn't need. Phua Ming Xin
then got the scoring done from Damian Hutter
's unorthodox cross whilst on the ground, as Ferzan hit the crossbar in time added on.