Written by: Ryan Low
Home United’s hopes of qualifying for The New Paper League Cup semi-finals took a dent after a frustrating 1-1 draw against Hougang United in a Group A clash at Jalan Besar Stadium on Monday night.
Croatian hot shot Stipe Plazibat had cancelled Fairoz Hasan’s opener for Hougang, but the Protectors failed to find another goal to convert one point into three.
After a tentative first half-hour, the game burst into life on 36 minutes with the Cheetahs taking a shock lead.
Fairoz was at the right place at the right time to bundle home, after his first attempt from Ali Hudzaifi’s cross was saved by Home’s returning goalkeeper Hassan Sunny.
Home would level matters just two minutes later, with Plazibat tapping home from close range after Faris Ramli’s snapshot was parried by Hougang custodian Ridhuan Barudin.
It was the 28-year-old’s 29th goal in all competitions, but he and company was unable to find another breakthrough.
10 minutes into the second half, Faris sneaked past three defenders on the byline but saw his cross cleared by Atsushi Shirota in the nick of time.
Then in the 64th minute, Izzdin Shafiq’s 30-yard volley looked destined for goal before Ridhuan’s timely intervention to tip it over.
Five minutes later, Faris cut inside his man before curling just over from 20 yards out.
Hougang finished the game strongly though and could have grabbed a late winner, but substitute Fareez Farhan’s free kick swerved just over the bar.
Home however finished the match with 10 men after defender Afiq Yunos was sent off for a second bookable offence in the dying moments of the game.
Both sides eventually settled for a share of the spoils and have to win their final Group A fixtures on Thursday to stand a chance of progression.
Home United Head Coach Aidil Sharin: “It’s a tough game, we dominated and played good football but Hougang is a good team which is improving defensively every game. We had so many chances and it was just that the ball did not go in for us.
“Hassan’s return helped the team and you can see the team gained confidence with him. Now it goes down to the last game and we have to win, but I’m still sticking to my principle of giving the reserves a chance to play.”
Hougang United Head Coach Philippe Aw: “It’s two points dropped for us today. In the first half, we got comfortable and we got punished for that one mistake in the middle. But the boys put up a wonderful performance and we did extremely well against a quality team with national team players and quality foreigners.
“It’s still a tricky group and we have to beat Warriors, but I’m happy that we’re still in the running to qualify from this Group of Death after two tough games.”
Home United: Hassan Sunny (GK, C), Abdil Qaiyyim (Shamil Sharif 68’), Hariss Harun, Afiq Yunos, Sirina Camara, Haziq Azman, Izzdin Shafiq, Khairul Nizam (Marijan Suto 77’), Faris Ramli, Sufianto Salleh (Iqram Rifqi 73’), Stipe Plazibat
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Nazrul Nazari, Delwinder Singh, Atsushi Shirota, Faiz Salleh, Ali Hudzaifi, Fabian Kwok, Afiq Noor (Justin Hui 67’), Fairoz Hasan (Fareez Farhan 67’), Antoine Viterale (Iqbal Hussain 84’), Fumiya Kogure (C)