Hougang United Football Club kicked off their 2016 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League campaign with a victory over title-favorite Home United FC at Hougang stadium last night in front of a boisterous crowd of 2307.
Right from the start of the whistle, the Cheetahs played a pressing game high up in the attacking third to disrupt Home Utd from building their momentum. The hardworking duo of Raihan Rahman and M.Anumanthan covered every blade of grass in the field, working tirelessly and kept Azhar Sairudin, Zulfahmi Arifin and Faris Ramli at bay. Captain Jozef Kaplan showed good understanding with Stipe Plazibat and made it difficult for Home Utd with Kaplan clever runs behind their defence and Stipe providing delicate through balls and short passes.
Missing influential midfielder Fumiya Kogure who was out with a fractured toe, Faiz Salleh and Ridho Jafri made their presence felt with their hardworking performance.
Home United created the first chance of the match when Faris broke free down the left wing and delivered a perfect cut-back to Irfan Fandi who side-footed his shot high above the bar. The defensive unit led back Delwinder Singh, Yusiskandar Yusof, Ali Hudzaifi and Nazrul Nazari limit the goal-scoring opportunity from ken Ilso and Irfan. Ali put in an excellent shift and made a crucial tackle to prevent Irfan from pulling the trigger inside the box at the 33rd minute before Hougang launched 1 of their many counter attacks.
Stipe Plazibat won a free-kick after he was clumsily brought down by Song UiYoung and the Croatian confidently placed the ball around the wall and beyond the reach of Hyrulnizam Juma’at for his first goal in the S.League.
Home United made a tactical switch at the start of the 2nd half by bringing on Aqhari Abdullah for Azhar to add more attacking options down both wings. More crosses were delivered into the box but they were dealth with by both Delwinder and Yusiskandar or confidently catched or punched away by Hougang United custodian Khairulhin Khalid.
With Home United pushing up pressing for the equalizing goal, 1 final opportunity felled to Stipe in injury time as he took advantage of a weak headed pass by Zulfahmi inside the penalty box and lifted the ball over the onrushing Hyrulnizam but could only watched in goes agonizingly wide of the goal.
Referee Jansen Foo blew the final whistle and Hougang stadium erupted with both set of supporters showing their appreciation for an entertaining match.
* Photos courtesy of Heinkel Heinz