Hougang United FC missed out on the opportunity to move back up into the top half of the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League table after an action-packed 1-1 draw with Garena Young Lions at the Hougang stadium on 19 May 2016.
Garena Young Lions drew 1st blood in the 14th minutes when Fareez Farhan scored from the penalty spot after Afiq Noor was judged to have handled the ball inside the box but the Cheetahs equalized through Nurhilmi Jasni in the 18th minutes. The result left the Cheetahs still undefeated in their home ground after 6 matches.
Hougang United came back strongly after conceding an early penalty to the Young Lions and after some good movement from Jozef Kaplan down the right flank, he released the marauding Nazrul Nazari who raced to the byline before squaring the ball to an unmarked Nurhilmi who tucked the ball into the back of the net for his 1st goal of the season.
Buoyed by the goal, the Cheetahs continued to attack the Young Lions and peppered shots after shots at their goal but found Zharfan Rohaizad in excellent. The young custodian pulled off saves after saves to deny the Cheetahs from pulling ahead.
Stipe Plazibat found that out when he was presented with a great opportunity in the 24th minutes after he played a neat one-two with Nurhilmi but his shot was deflected out by Zharfan’s outstretched left foot. Kaplan was next to rued his chance when he saw his shot at goal saved by Zharfan before the interval.
From the restart of the 2nd half, Hougang pressed forward but found Zharfan in excellent form. His positioning and safe pair of hands ensured that the score was kept at 1 a-piece. Nurhilmi’s cross from the left towards Kaplan was well claimed before Kaplan struck the crossbar with just the young goalkeeper to beat.
Young Lions nearly took the lead against the run of play in the 70th minutes when a freekick was floated in by Fareez towards Shannon Stephan but his header was crawled away at the far post by an alert Khairulhin Khalid.
In the 70th minutes, Nur Na’iim sent a lofted ball to Iqbal Hussain whose delicate 1 touch pass across the box was met by the onrushing Stipe. But yet again Zharfan leapt towards his left and tipped the ball over for a corner. Another break on the left saw Zharfan getting down quickly to prevent Kaplan from getting a tap in at close range after Plazibat had sent a low cross into the box.
The result left the Cheetahs in 6th position after failing to claim maximum points in their last 4 matches. The league will go for a break with the start of the RHB Singapore Cup competition next week where high-flying Home United FC will take on the Cheetahs at Bishan stadium.
The finalist of last season Singapore Cup have been on a good run lately with consecutive wins and their latest victim was non other than the defending champion Brunei DPMM who suffered a devastating 5-0 defeat.
Can the Cheetahs show up and take down the Protectors in their own den? Catch them in actions on 26 May 2016 at Bishan stadium. Kick-off will be at 7.30pm.
*photos courtesy of Haiqal Tahir