By Kenneth Tan

Hougang United continued their decent start to the 2015 Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League season continued as they held Geylang International to a stalemate at the Bedok Stadium on Thursday night.

It was a scrappy game all round but the Cheetahs could have stolen all three points, if referee W. Ravisanthiran had spotted a blatant tug-back by Geylang left-back Syed Thaha on forward Francisco “Chupe” Ela inside the box two minutes before the end of the game.

Being the hosts, Geylang tried to assert their authority just two minutes into the game but captain Jozef Kaplan’s close-range effort came unluckily off the post. That however proved to be the only meaningful chance for them in the first half.

Bolstered by the inclusion of new Japanese midfielder Renshi Yamaguchi, Hougang kept the ball the better of the two sides but was unable to trouble Geylang keeper Yazid Yasin much. Captain Nurhilmi Jasni and Fairoz Hasan could not keep their shots while Chupe fired another sighter on the half-hour mark which was easily smothered by the custodian.

Winger Matthew Abraham then tried an audacious 20-yard shot with the outside of his left foot but the shot went just over the bar.

Both sides go into the break goalless and it was the Cheetahs who continued to dominate with Fairoz firing once again from range six minutes after the restart. They were perhaps slightly lucky not to go down to ten men though as Yamaguchi escaped with just a yellow card for a late challenge on Kento Fukuda.

Both sides decided to make changes 20 minutes before the end, with Geylang bringing on Shah Hirul for Hafiz Nor while Hougang opted for Muhaymin Salim to replace Abraham. However it was the Eagles who was largely on top in the last 15 minutes.

Kaplan glanced his header from Yuki Ichikawa’s cross just wide, before seeing his close-range shot denied superbly by Hougang keeper Ridhuan Barudin.Centre back Hafiz Osman then reacted instinctively to turn home a rebound but the ‘goal’ was ruled off by the assistant referee’s offside flag.

Hougang tried to break on the counter and the tactic nearly paid off handsomely towards the end when Chupe seemed to be tugged back by Thaha just inside the box. However the man-in-the-middle was not interested to entertain the Equatoguinean’s appeals for a penalty.

Eventually Hougang had to settle for a point apiece with the Eagles as they continued their unbeaten start to the season, with three draws in three games thus far.

The Cheetahs will next take on title favorites Tampines Rovers at the Jurong West Stadium on March 18.

Geylang International: Yazid Yasin (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Hafiz Osman, Kento Fukuda, Syed Thaha, Anaz Hadee,  Mustaqim Manzur (Shawal Anuar 83’), Hafiz Nor (Shah Hirul 71’), Tatsuro Inui, Jozef Kaplan (captain), Bruno Castanheira.

Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Faizal Amir, Yuki Uchiyama, Kunihiro Yamashita, Faiz Salleh, Fairoz Hasan, Renshi Yamaguchi, Shunsuke Nakatake, Nurhilmi Jasni (captain), Matthew Abraham (Muhaymin Salim 71’), Francisco Ela.

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