Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Hougang United notched their second win on the trot after a 2-0 victory over Warriors FC in the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Thursday night.
Following Geylang International’s 1-0 defeat to Albirex Niigata in the other game of the day, second-half strikes from Fumiya Kogure and Fareez Farhan were enough for the Cheetahs to move up to fifth spot in the standings.
The home side dominated proceedings and could have gone ahead after just three minutes but Hafiz Nor fired straight at Hougang custodian Khairulhin Khalid after latching onto Shahril Ishak’s through pass.
Minutes later, Joel Tshibamba took down Zulfadli Zainal’s cross brilliantly inside the box with his chest before drilling a low shot that was blocked for a corner.
Khairulhin then produced a superb save to deny Jordan Webb in the 18th minute as he showed excellent reflexes to keep out the Canadian’s effort from 12 yards out.
Firdaus Kasman saw his snapshot easily gathered by Khairulhin on 25 minutes, before Hougang defender Atsushi Shirota recovered in time to deny Tshibamba from pulling the trigger on the half-hour mark.
Chances were few and far between thereafter, with Nurhilmi Jasni’s shot on the stroke of half-time the only notable one of note.
Antoine Viterale had a goal disallowed for offside two minutes after the restart, but there was no denying Philippe Aw’s side as they took the lead in the 53rd minute.
After the Warriors defence failed to clear their lines from a cross from the right, Kogure was in the right place and right time to stab home the loose ball for his fourth league goal this season.
Warriors tried to conjure a reply and could have levelled matters three minutes after the opener but midfielder Syaqir Sulaiman skied his shot off Tshibamba’s cut-back.
The nine-time league champions pushed forward in numbers thereafter but struggled to find a way past the Hougang defence.
They were however nearly rewarded with the equaliser four minutes from time when Shahril connected with Emmeric Ong’s right-wing cross but Khairulhin was there again to deny the Warriors captain.
Things then went from bad to worse for Warriors as defender Hafiz Osman was sent off for a second bookable offence, for his challenge on Viterale.
It was game, set and match deep into second-half stoppage time when substitute Fareez unleashed a first-time volley from the edge of the area which sailed past the hapless Hyrulnizam to condemn Warriors to their second straight defeat.
Warriors FC Head Coach Razif Onn: “It was just not enough. I don’t count chances only goals; we had a number of chances in the first-half that we missed but I’m not going to blame anyone.
“That said, we started well in the second-half as we pressed them. We tried to come back but sometimes things don’t go your way. The second goal came as we were too focused on attacking and were caught on the counter (as a result).”
Hougang United Head Coach Philippe Aw: “This result was good for confidence. We managed to get another clean sheet, especially after we’ve come back from three defeats to pick up two straight wins.
“In the first-half we we were too patient and needed to be more direct. But we got to give Warriors credit, they are an experienced team. At 1-0 up, they were still coming at us, but we have (goalkeeper) Khairulhin (Khalid) there for a reason; he’s a good shot stopper.”
Warriors FC: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Ang Zhi Wei (Emmeric Ong 68’), Syaqir Sulaiman, Kento Fukuda, Zulfadli Zainal, Hafiz Nor (Fadhil Noh 72’), Firdaus Kasman, Hafiz Osman, Shahril Ishak (C), Jordan Webb, Joel Tshibamba (Ridhuan Muhammad 84’)
Hougang United: Khairulhin Khalid (GK), Nazrul Nazari (Faiz Salleh 86’), Lionel Tan, Atsushi Shirota, Ali Hudzaifi, Fumiya Kogure, Zulfahmi Arifin, Fabian Kwok, Nurhilmi Jasni (C) (Fareez Farhan 60’), Azhar Sairudin (Delwinder Singh 78’), Antoine Viterale