Stipe Plazibat scoring the third goal of the match; and his 4th goal of the season.

Stipe Plazibat. The Croatian striker that is in red hot form at the moment.

Hougang United FC hitman Stipe Plazibat continues his fine form after grabbing a brace in last night 3-1 win over Garena Young Lions at the Jalan Besar stadium.

Joint top-scorer with 4 goals to his name after 4 matches, Stiple was a constant menace to the Young Lions back-line throughout the match. His touches and constant interchanging positions with Jozef Kaplan caused confusion to the young defenders who were often left chasing shadows.

The Cheetahs went ahead early in the 1st half when Fumiya sent a long ball behind the high pressing backline to Nazrul and he lobbed the ball over the onrushing French goalkeeper Benjamin Bertrand who was caught in no-mans land to an unmarked Stipe to easily guide his header into an empty goal.

Despite conceding an early goal, Young Lions kept their heads up and had an opportunity to level the scoreline when a freekick was awarded outside the penalty box. Upstepped ex-Hougang midfielder Fareez Farhan who hit a powerful drive that went inches over the bar even though Hougang custodian Khairulhin Khalid had it covered.

Kaplan was next to test the over-rated French goalkeeper when Raihan intercepted a pass in midfield and lay it off to Nazrul who defense splitting pass beat the entire backline and set up Kaplan. His left footed shot was well blocked by the goalkeeper. Another opportunity to get his name on the scoresheet came when Fumiya sent his freekick towards Delwinder Singh at the far post and with his header back across goal headed towards Kaplan path by a Young Lion player, his half volley towards the near post was turned around the post by the alert goalkeeper.

Hougang continued to keep up the pressure when a corner was headed just wide by Delwinder who lost his marker and attacked the ball at the near post.

Right from the restart of the 2nd half, Hougang’s Fumiya again found space outside the box and released the overlapping Fairoz Hasan down the right. Fairoz low drive across goal towards Kaplan was cleared away for a corner after a last ditched sliding clearance from Taufiq Muqminin. They were not to be denied minutes later when Afiq Noor who came in for the injured Ali Hudzaifi in the 1st half, released Kaplan down the left wing. Drawing a defender towards him at the edge of the box, Kaplan’s cut back meant for Stipe was diverted towards goal by the unlucky
outstretched leg of Taufiq for an own goal that went past his own goalkeeper at his near post. A bemused Kaplan nevertheless accepting the hugs and high-fives from his teammates.

M.Anumanthan was next to try his luck at goal with his snap shot at the top of the 18-yard box which went directly to the goalkeeper before another freekick from Fumiya found Stipe whose side footed shot narrowly went passed the post and to the relieved of the Young Lions bench.

Moments later, Anumanthan sent a lofted through ball down the middle for Fumiya who beat the offside trap and saw his shot crashed onto the crossbar to deny him his 1st competitive goal for the Cheetahs.

Young Lions were given a lifeline at the 80th minutes when a cut back from the byline found Fareez and he made no mistakes with his low shot beating Khairulhin Khalid at the far post.

Any thoughts of a revival by the Young Lions was quickly quashed within 2 minutes after the goal when Wahyudi Wahid crossed to the far post was yet again headed back by the unmarked Delwinder and Stipe was on hand to stabbed the ball home and killed off the game.

After 2 wins, 1 draw and 1 lost, Hougang are now 3rd in the league table and look set to continue their winning run when they take on Balestier Khalsa next Saturday, 19 March at the Hougang stadium.

Photos courtesy of Haiqal Tahir

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