Hougang United kept their top-three target in the Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League alive following a 2-0 victory over hosts Garena Young Lions on Friday evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The opening 20 minutes proved to be a dour affair as both sides failed to manage a shot on target. Iqbal Hussain attempted to provide some inspiration to break the Young Lions’ defence by cleverly chipped the ball over his marker to create space for himself but saw his shot sail wide of the post much to the disappointment of the away supporters.
The Hougang supporters, who continuously cheered their team on from the first whistle, were rewarded when the Cheetahs pressed on and broke the deadlock in the 45th minute.
It was Iqbal again who provided yet another moment of sublime skill. Receiving the ball on the right flank, the young forward proceeded to dummy his way into the center before unleashing an unstoppable shot which dipped at the right moment to give Hougang the lead going into the break.
The deficit seemed to dent the confidence of the Young Lions and despite their attempts to find an equalizer, they failed to conjure up any decent chances with veteran Khairul Amri stranded up front.
Things took a turn for the worse for the home team when a goalmouth scramble resulted in Nurhilmi Jasni putting the ball into the net after the ball ricocheted into his path in the 71st minute.
Although Patrick Hesse’s charges tried to find a way back into the game, and had several chances towards the end of the game, K.Balagumaran’s side hang on for the precious three points.
Garena Young Lions Head Coach Patrick Hesse: “We were not good with the final pass and shot. We must be better. If we play better I am sure we can create five or six opportunities to go one-on-one with the keeper.”
“When we are two to three minutes away from half time, it is a very important period. We cannot make any mistakes during this period. We had the ball in the last minute but we made a poor choice and lost the ball which resulted in the goal.”
Hougang United Head Coach K. Balagumaran: “It’s not an easy game. Young Lions had their game plan to sit deep and defend. We ourselves were rushing to get the first goal so I told them to be patient and build up. I think Iqbal’s goal was definitely a brilliant goal which gave the team confidence to play.”
“There’s something good about this team. They are willing to try out positions. It is not like they will say coach, I’m not comfortable playing here and I want to sit outside. ”
Garena Young Lions: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Amirul Adli, Tajeli Salamat (Fareez Farhan 82’), Christopher Van Huizen (Adam Swandi 72’), Hami Syahin, Shannon Stephen (Rusyaidi Salime 54’), Khairul Amri (C), Dhukilan Jeevamani, Firdaus Kasman, Ryan Syaffiq, Faizal Roslan
Hougang United FC: Khairulhin Khalid (GK), Fairoz Hasan, M.Anumanthan, Jozef Kaplan (C) (Nur Naiim Ishak 84’), Fumiya Kogure, Stipe Plazibat, Nazrul Nazari (Huzaifah Aziz 78’), Iqbal Hussain (Samuel Benjamin 80’), Faiz Salleh, Nurhilmi Jasni, Afiq Noor
Match Report by S.League.com Nevin Gabriel Khoo
Photos courtesy of Haiqal Tahir