WARRIORS FC 4
Shi Jiayi 5′, Mislav Karoglan pen 79′, 89′, Erwan Gunawan 90′
HOUGANG UNITED 2
Mamadou Diallo 52′, Azhar Sairudin 55′
The Cheetahs were ten minutes away from victory, before a penalty and two late goals denied them the points, which was what estranging the team this season.
The Cheetahs looked more of a different side in the second half, looking more like the side that we have seen the past seasons. More direct football, pinpoint crosses from the mercurial Fazli Jaffar and Nurhilmi Jasni, the hustling and through passes from Azhar Sairudin, and the flamboyancy of custodian Fadhil Salim, who seems to attract balls to his hands, whenever one comes in his way.
However, the Cheetahs didnt start particularly well, and conceded a goal just after four minutes. Tatsuro Inui, clearly the best player in the first half, went past Faizal Amir and ran towards the penalty box from the left. He passed to Shi Jiayi, who managed to nutmeg Syaqir Sulaiman and slot the ball past Fadhil Salim for an all-important lead.
Warriors clearly looking rampant in the first half, however, with chances coming in their way, the finishing was either wayward, or just could not beat Fadhil Salim, who was clearing and saving every single balls that came his way.
Warriors were made to left ruing the wasted opportunities in the first half, as the Cheetahs came out a shooting all cannons in the second half. With the mercurial Fazli Jaffar replacing Jerome Baker before half time, and Jeremy Chiang replacing Liam Shotton at half time, moving Faizal Amir to the midfield to add in more flair in the midfield.
A well worked free kick by Azhar Sairudin, found three man; Mamadou Diallo, Shahir Hamzah and Syaqir Sulaiman all unmarked. It was the Guinean who won the ‘lottery’ to head the ball in for an equalizer on 52 minutes.
Three minutes later, it was pandemonium at the stands for the Hougang faithfuls, as the Cheetahs took the lead. Azhar Sairudin disposessing Abdil Qayyim right outside the box, and the Hougang no. 8 scamper towards the gaping hole in Warriors’ defence and blasted the ball past Hassan Sunny for a 2-1 lead.
By then the Cheetahs looked more of the team that is heading to victory. A few more chances to end the game, particularly Fazli Jaffar cross to Nurhilmi Jasni, where Daniel Bennet managed to dispossess the winger. However, the script wasnt written in Hougang’s favour with ten minutes left remaining.
The referee pointed to the spot when a wayward shot by Erwan Gunawan deflected towards Syaqir Sulaiman’s arm. Mislav Karoglan converted the goal from the spot for the equalizer. However, the Warriors players seen that the draw was not enough.
Nine minutes later, the Warriors completed a comeback, which looked like a foul on Fadhil Salim. A cross from Tatsuro Inui, found Karoglan, who knocked off Fadhil from his dive. However, the referee pointed to the centre circle for a goal, much to the dismay of the Hougang players, protesting for a foul on their custodian.
From then on the Cheetahs pushed up for a much needed equalizer, but in injury time, Erwan Gunawan thundered a netbuster from a tight angle on the right to win the home side all three points.
Fadhil Salim, Syaqir Sulaiman, Shahir Hamzah, Faizal Amir, Lau Meng Meng, Azhar Sairudin, Fairoz Hasan (Basit Hamid 80′), Jerome Baker (Fazli Jaffar 32′), Nurhilmi Jasni, Mamadou Diallo, Liam Shotton (Jeremy Chiang 45′)
Hassan Sunny, Daniel Bennett, Abdil Qayyim, Marin Vidosevic, Zulfadhli Zainal Abidin, Shukor Zailan (Shimpei Sakurada 66′), Shi Jiayi, Tatsuro Inui, Ruzaini Zainal (Prakash Manikam 77′), Sufian Anuar (Erwan Gunawan 66′), Mislav Karoglan