Herron For The Title
Not Even Close
Herron avenged last season's defeats against Grilled with a resounding victory, consolidating their position at the top of the S-League. There would be no stopping the legendary team in their own lair, even though they played with just one striker for most of the match after Shu Chit-Fu was ejected.
Bona was given his chance in the middle as Fredgård served his one match ban, but hopes that his relative speed would help to counter Herron's speedy forward line proved unfounded. Ashton stretched the Grilled defence wide open in the eighth minute with a determined run down to the corner flag, and once Chit-Fu got into a straight race for the ball with Bona, it was over.
A similar opportunity four minutes later might have seen Chit-Fu collect another goal. Again, Grilled's last man had no answer to his explosive acceleration. This time, it was Kek-Tjiang who was left behind, but he at least pitched in with a last ditch sliding tackle that distracted the player-coach sufficiently to put his finish over the bar.
Grilled were then given heart as the referee dismissed Chit-Fu in the middle of the first half, to catcalls from the indigant Herron supporters. It will remain a talking point whether the striker intentionally elbowed Han Kok while going up for a header, but that was the immediate decision of the man in black. As it was, Han Kok was not badly hurt, and continued after a sip of water.
That did not dampen Herron's driving edge though, as they cut through a lethargic Grilled team who will find their excuse of Masters exhaustion sounding less and less credible by the day. Despite having the numerical advantage, their marking was sloppy at best, and nobody was near Florian Jähnisch when he strode clean through and stroked a leisurely strike against the woodwork.
Sid worked hard down at leftback and appeared innocent when he sidefooted the ball out of touch after the whistle had gone. The referee interpreted his actions as less than proper, however, and flashed a yellow card that had the Pole shrugging.
Richard Ashton nearly capped a twenty-pass combination by Herron with a winding flyer that sought out the far top corner, but Sulaiman proved his worth by retreating with his eyes on the ball, and managed to beat out the final swerve with his forearm.
Grilled appeared clueless on how to use their extra man, as Martinsson and Kadak stretch their mindboggling scoreless streak to nine league matches, surely unheard of for a strike pairing of their reputation. Their impotency may stem from poor understanding, but there was almost something sinister about the way Kadak conspired to pepper the imposing Abd Rauf Mohd Nadzir with feeble attempts.
Herron were well in control and toyed with their visitors, knowing that Grilled had to come forward in search of points. This they did as the minutes ticked by, and Jähnisch gave warning with a fleeting drive that was always going away from goal. Grilled didn't heed it, sadly, and Haupai and Man-of-the-Match Richard Ashton delivered a one-two punch in the next six minutes to snuff out Grilled's hopes.