WARRIORS FC 1
Fazrul Nawaz 69’
HOUGANG UNITED 0
By Kenneth Tan
Hougang United went down to their third defeat of the 2015 Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League season after being edged out 1-0 by defending champions Warriors FC at the Woodlands Stadium on Thursday night.
Despite dominating the game, the Cheetahs failed to make their chances count as Fazrul Nawaz struck the decisive goal midway through the second half to give the uniformed giants all three points in an tight affair.
Former Hougang stalwarts Syaqir Sulaiman and Fazli Jaffar was named in Alex Weaver’s starting eleven, and it was the latter who was keen to make an impression – firing over after just six minutes in.
Miroslav Pejic then tested Ridhuan Barudin’s gloves six minutes later, but it was all Hougang thereafter in the first half.
Shunsuke Nakatake’s snapshot from outside the box whistled just past the left-hand post, before Fareez Farhan thumped over from close range after being set up by Muhaymin Salim.
Hotshot Francisco “Chupe” Ela had the chance to put the Cheetahs ahead but his speculative volley was only able to clear the bar.
The Cheetahs carried where they left off after the break – carving out opportunities in the final third without putting them away.
Chupe found himself at the end of two excellent crosses from Fareez and Nurhilmi Jasni, but was unable to divert them towards goal.
The Warriors did eventually find their feet and created two openings thereafter, but Pejic’s opportunistic shot came back off the post, while Hafiz could only find the side netting after being found by a teasing right-wing cross by Velez.
Hougang should have taken the lead on 66 minutes when Warriors captain Daniel Bennett lost the ball inside his own half. Nurhilmi Jasni collected subsitute Fairoz Hasan’s through ball and strode into the box, but was unable to keep his shot on target.
That miss proved costly as the Warriors broke the deadlock just three minutes later. Velez’s right-wing cross picked out Fazrul, who had the simplest of tasks to tap home from close range, despite Ridhuan’s best efforts to keep it out.
Despite the setback, Hougang piled on the pressure to get the equalizer in the final 20 minutes but was unable to blow the roof down.
Nakatake headed over from Fairoz’s cross, before Chupe’s fierce close-range drive was palmed wide by Daniel Ong. Debutant Goh Swee Swee then fired a superb volley on the turn which was caught just under the bar by the Warriors custodian.
Eventually time ran out for the luckless Cheetahs as they went down to their third straight defeat.
They will look to make amends when they host RHB Singapore Cup champions Balestier Khalsa at the Hougang Stadium on April 18.
Warriors FC: Daniel Ong (GK), Syaqir Sulaiman, Daniel Bennett, Marin Vidosevic, Irwan Shah, Kevin McCann, Emmeric Ong, Miroslav Pejic (Nur Asyidiq 88’), Nicolas Velez, Fazli Jaafar (Hafiz Rahim 46’), Fazrul Nawaz (Shi Jiayi 79’).
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Lau Meng Meng, Yuki Uchiyama, Kunihiro Yamashita, Faiz Salleh, Fairoz Hasan, Nurhilmi Jasni (C), Renshi Yamaguchi, Shunsuke Nakatake, Fareez Farhan (Fairoz Hasan 62’), Muhaymin Salim (Goh Swee Swee 76’), Francisco “Chupe” Ela.
Photo credit: S.League