Hougang United FC put up an impressive performance against Brunei DPMM FC at Hougang stadium on Friday night and could have snatched all 3 points had it not for the linesman offside call to disallowed Wahyudi Wahid 1st ever goal for the Cheetahs.
Coach Balagumaran recalled Faiz Salleh into the starting line-up after missing out for the loss to Tampines Rovers last week and handed Fairoz Hasan his 1st start of the season. Nazrul Nazari returned to his more familiar role at right back with Yusiskandar Yusof partnering Wahyudi in the middle of defense and Ali Hudzaifi completing the back line in-front of Khairulhin Khalid in goal.
Stiple Plazibat continued to partner captain Jozef Kaplan upfront after his impressive 2 goals in 2 matches and both of them kept the Bruneian back line who was missing their foreign import Brian Mclean through injury on their toes throughout the 90 minutes.
The best chance of the night came in the 25th minutes when Kaplan received the ball inside the box from Faiz. With a defender breathing down his neck, he made a quick turn and hit a volley that hit the woodward and cleared away for a corner.
Last season top scorer Rafael Ramazotti was having a very quiet game after being shut out well by Yusikandar and Wahyudi. Restricted to mainly flicking on those high balls pump towards him, Rafael had a good opportunity to set up Paulo Sergio when he cut the ball back to Sergio after dribbling his way into the box but Sergio shot was acrobatically saved by Khairulhin.
Just before halftime, the Cheetahs launched a quick counter attack when Kaplan received received the ball inside his own half and beat 3 defenders en route into the penalty box before lashing a shot that flew way above the crossbar.
Coach Balagumaran threw in his star midfielder Fumiya Kogure in the 56th minutes and Fumiya nearly scored his 1st competitive goal for Hougang when Stipe played a short pass to Raihan Rahman and continued his run into the box. Raihan return ball fell into Fumiya path and the reigning Player of the Year set himself up before dragging his shot past the far post after being closed down by Wardun Yusoff.
And the moment came in the 84th minutes when Fumiya swing in a free-kick towards the centre of the penalty box. The ball eluded a sea of players but Wahyudi was arriving at the far post and headed the ball into goal with Wardun stranded and the crowd going wild. But to their dismay, the linesman had already flagged for offside and cancelled out what would have been a match winner and also Wahyudi 1st career goal in Hougang United FC.
Despite 4 minutes of injury time, both sides were unable to crave out the winning goal and had to settled for a point.
The Cheetahs will next face off with Garena Young Lions on 10 March at the Jalan Besar stadium.
Photos courtesy of Heinkel Heinze