Singapore Pay Penalty
Raining On The Parade
Sid continued his fine scoring streak, which has extended into four matches - surely a good return for a wingback. The fact that he is Grilled's designated dead-ball specialist may have helped, as it did today when he converted a penalty, although he missed a second one. Sid summed it up the best, "When you start scoring, it is a taste that you find hard to forget."
Without ex-Grilled main man Aznan Noor Yadah, Team Singapore predictably started with a counterattacking 4-3-3 that upset Winning Eleven earlier on. Grilled were prepared, however, and fulfilled van Liere's wish by throwing the relentless attacker out on the left wing, where he proceeded to peg back that side of the Team Singapore defence.
The rainy weather did nothing for Grilled's usual short passing game, and the hosts were similarly hobbled as strong winds buffetted their long balls away from their target men. Out-of-form defender Hua Kok-Peng, who got his start in football from lcfc, was doubly tortured by the slippery grass and Grilled's equally slippery Dutch winger.
There might have been an infringement when Gustavsson bumped Han Kok in the 16th minute, but the referee allowed play to continue and Han Kok hopefully knocked the ball on. Martinsson was nowhere near it, but as ex-U20 sweeper Loo Jie Kok was hanging on to his jersey, an admittedly soft penalty was granted.
Sid had to bend over several times to keep the ball on the spot as it kept being gusted to the side, but the eventual execution was habitually top drawer. The shot stayed low and powered into the bottom right, as another former U-20 international Chew Xiaolun remained in the middle.
The referee might have wanted to go a little easier on the home team after that borderline decision, but he could have done nothing but award yet another penalty after Xiaolun dragged down Kadak in the six yard box, a blatant foul. Xiaolun was spared a booking, and Sid was contrite after he blew the opportunity, tripping on the run-up.
The goalkick was swiftly returned, and Loo Jie Kok received the first booking of the game as he held off Paullin's run with a nudge to the ribs. All in all it was not a performance that the Team Singapore fans enjoyed, but the fifty-five thousand who turned up still held out hope for a better second half.
Little had changed, however, as Aznan was sorely missed. Having no means of reliably maintaining possession, the home side fell prey to van Liere's slick moves more often than once. In the 62nd minute, he rounded Kok-Peng with a tricky spin and lifted a lob for Rottman to head over Xiaolun into the net.
Two-nil is a dangerous lead to hold, so the saying goes, and Team Singapore indeed looked likely to pull at least one back as they responded to their still supportive fans. Hard running down the left flank saw Jue Shiu-Fai on the overlap, and he took the ball past Fredgård with his pace. Sulaiman was beaten by the defender's right footed grounder, but it could only brush the foot of the post as it rolled out of bounds.
That piece of skill had a sad ending, as Sulaiman blasted the ball back down the field, and Shiu-Fai had understandably not made it back yet. In a three on three situation, Rottman discovered Han Kok sneaking in behind the last man and gave him something to chase. Team Singapore were finally buried for good, as the lithe winger crashed the ball past Xiaolun from eight metres.
Sid might have further rubbed their faces into it, as his wind-assisted free kick a minute later took a low bounce on the ground and could have gone under a less experienced goalie. Xiaolun was prepared for that, though, and deservedly prevented a fourth goal by covering well with both hands.
Kek-Tjiang then provoked the already irritated opposition by not showing appropriate concern after his crunching tackle had laid English striker Darren Gingold low, but his actions appeared to be justified after Gingold was up and running seconds after Kek-Tjiang received his yellow card. Grilled heeded their coach's call to tone it down, and were duly rewarded with their first away win of the campaign.