Photos courtesy of Chris Harvey
Hougang United 0
Albirex Niigata 1
Takeshi Nagasaki 42′
Hougang suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of the Swans, after a well defensive hold on the second half.
Hougang were missing skipper Lau Meng Meng through suspension – custodian Fadhil Salim was handed the armband. Jerome Baker still failed to shrug off his thigh injury, which had been bothering him eversince the opening day against Courts Young Lions.
The Cheetahs didn’t have a great first half; possession was more on Albirex, who were looking likely to score in the first 25 minutes, but were thwarted by in form custodian Fadhil.
The Cheetahs had 5 shots on goal at the end of the first half, however it was the Swans who got their golden chance on 38 minutes. Nagasawa was judged to be brought down by Syaqir Sulaiman, and the referee pointed to the spot.
Kazuki Sakamoto took the spotkick and Fadhil Salim correctly dived to the right to save the spotkick, to much delight of the Hougang faithfuls. It was his third saved spotkick after the wonderful goalkeeping clinic he had against DPMM.
However, the Cheetahs were made to pay in the 42nd minute. A failed clearence by the Hougang defence was pounced by Swans midfielder Takeshi Nagasaki, and he unleashed a 35-yard thunderbolt which Fadhil Salim could not managed to save. The Swans managed to hold the lead up till half time.
The second half saw a different Cheetahs side, and they managed to control possession especially at the middle of the field. But they were left frustrated by a compact Albirex defence, who were more interested in slowing the game down, and passing around the field to run down time.
Plenty of passes and crosses to the final third went bagging and Hougang’s forward line were left frustrated. Mamadou Diallo looked the more likely scorer everytime he’s on the ball, but his shots were often saved by Swans custodian Hiroaki Hara.
Hougang’s best chance came in the 78th minute, when stand in left back Fazly Hasan managed to break through from the left, but his lay off cross did not managed to meet any of the incoming strikers, and cleared off by the Swans backline.
The score remained the same till the final whistle and Hougang were handed their first defeat.
After the game, coach Alex Weaver lauded the Albirex defence, who were in control of the game and possession for most of the game. The game would have been saved for Hougang if not for the fantastic shot by Nagasaki, which his defence didn’t closed down well. He also praised his team for coming out strongly in the second half, however, the tight Swans defence had restricted his strikers to long range shots, something which he would want to address to his team for the upcoming games to distribute the balls to the flanks, in which Hougang’s chances came most from in the second half.
Hougang will now face Woodlands Wellington in their next game, which will be next Friday.
Fadhil Salim, Syaqir Sulaiman, Hasree Zais, Fazly Hasan, Jeremy Chiang (Fairoz Hasan 74′), Thomas Beattie, Azhar Sairudin, Fazli Jaffar, Robert Eziakor (Basit Hamid 74′), Mamadou Diallo, Liam Shotton (Sobrie Mazelan 82′)
Hiroaki Hara, Masahiro Ishikawa, Kento Fukuda, Tatsuya Sase, Yuya Nagae (Shingo Suzuki 54′), Shuhei Hotta, Takeshi Nagasawa (Hiroki Morisaki 68′), Kento Nagasaki, Masatake Sato, Bruno Castanheira, Kazuki Sakamoto (Yoshinaga Arima 90′)
Video courtesy of Great Eastern Yeos S.League