TAMPINES ROVERS 2
Ridhuan Muhammad 34’, Mustafic Fahrudin 72’
HOUGANG UNITED 0
By Kenneth Tan
Hougang United suffered their first loss of the 2015 Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League season as they fell to title favorites Tampines Rovers 2-0 at the Jurong West Stadium on Wednesday night.
Goals in each half from former Singapore internationals Ridhuan Muhammad and Mustafic Fahrudin sealed the deal for the Stags, although Hougang could have gotten a draw if they had finished off their chances.
There was an opening as early as seven minutes in, but Matthew Abraham’s deflected shot was punched out to safety by Tampines keeper Siddiq Durimi.
Tampines should have gone ahead via a well-worked move five minutes later but Aqhari Abdullah somehow failed to apply the finishing touch from three yards out.
Hougang went on the break on 15 minutes with captain Nurhilmi Jasni racing onto Takahashi Manato’s through ball, but the former’s shot was deflected wide by an alert Shaiful Esah.
The game was then halted for about half an hour, due to the Lighting Warning System being switched on, and it was Tampines who settled back in the better of the two sides.
Gradually enjoying more space in the attacking third, they eventually broke the deadlock on 34 minutes. Roberto Alviz floated a superb inswinging cross into the box for Tampines winger Ridhuan to nod past his namesake Ridhuan Barudin in the Hougang goal.
The Cheetahs tried to level matters just before the break but Yuki Uchiyama was unable to keep his header from Shunsuke Nakatake’s corner down.
Gaffer Salim Moin decided to make a couple of tactical switches in the second half, bringing on former Courts Young Lions players Fareez Farhan and Muhaymin Salim for Abraham and Manato. However that made little impact in changing the result of the game.
Eventually it was V. Sundramoorthy’s Stags which put the result to bed 18 minutes from time as Mustafic got the faintest of touches inside the box to flick home Alviz’s freekick.
Credit to the Cheetahs, they did not let their heads go down after that goal as they kept piling on the pressure in the last 15 minutes.
Nurhilmi curled over from Muhaymin’s cut-back, while Nakatake’s header from Fareez’s freekick was tipped over the bar by Siddiq. Francisco “Chupe” Ela then cut inside his man but his resulting shot was well parried by the Tampines custodian.
While they eventually failed to find a consolation goal, the players could take heart from the spirited late response.
They will next host Brunei DPMM at the Hougang Stadium on April 4.
Tampines Rovers: Siddiq Durimi (GK), Ismadi Mukhtar, Eddy Viator, Predrag Pocuca, Shaiful Esah, Ridhuan Muhammad, Fahrudin Mustafic (C),Aqhari Abdullah (Fabian Kwok 77’), Roberto Alviz, Firdaus Idros (Zulfadli Zainal Abidin 83’), Indra Sahdan (Noh Alam Shah 83’).
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Faizal Amir, Yuki Uchiyama, Kunihiro Yamashita, Faiz Salleh, Fairoz Hasan (Kenneth Chang 83’), Shunsuke Nakatake, Nurhilmi Jasni (C), Matthew Abraham (Fareez Farhan 46’), Takahashi Manato (Muhaymin Salim 61’), Francisco Salvador Ela.