HOUGANG UNITED 1
Liam Shotton (81)
BALESTIER KHALSA 3
Park Kang-jin (18,78), Obadin Aikhena (47)
In a game where the Cheetahs needed a spark to turnaround their season, however, they were left ruing with another defeat, this time at home to Balestier Khalsa.
A new change of head coach, plus recent friendly victories against Lions XII and Johor FA looked like they found a recipe to start bombarding the S.League defences with excellent attacking plays that were sorely missed for the first five games.
However, disappointment loomed above the partisan crowd, who were all out screaming “Hougang United!!” at the top of their lungs during the last ten minutes of the game.
The Cheetahs, playing without regular starters Tom Beattie (flu) and Sobrie Mazelan, were all out to try and resume normal services in the league, after a shock defeat in the hands of Geylang International on Mar 28.
A Mamadou Diallo freekick on the left after five minutes, needed a full length save from Balestier custodian Zaiful Nizam. Another Diallo shot three minutes later went into the net, however, referee Sukhbir Singh disallowed it for an infringement.
However, with virtually their first real chance in the game, Balestier’s Park Kang-jin stunned the partisan crowd with a dink from outside the box, which went past the defence and Fadhil Salim and into the net on 16 minutes.
From then on, it looked like the Tigers were going on a goalfest, with some fine attacking displays from the front four of Park Kang-jin, Kim Minho, Jung Heebong and Qiu Li, however, their finishing limited the first half score to a one goal advantage to the Tigers.
However, with the Cheetahs looking for an equaliser, throwing mercurial winger Fazli Jaffar in for Robert Eziakor, they concede another goal from a corner.
A corner kick from the right found an unmarked Obadin Aikhena in the box for the Tigers to increase their lead to 2-0 on 47 minutes. By then, the Cheetahs suddenly became a different team and started to bombard the Tigers’ defence, who were not tested in much of the first half, now suddenly found themselves vulnerable.
A number of shots from Azhar Sairudin, Mamadou Diallo and Jerome Baker looked like heading for the goal, however, Zaiful Nizam managed to prevent the Tigers from conceding.
By the 78th minute, the Tigers secured an elusive away victory with almost a similar goal from Obadin Aikhena. Unmarked in the box, Park headed home his second and Balestier’s third of the night.
That sprung the stadium to life, with a partisan crowd shouting cheers of the beloved team name, and manage to salvage a consolation goal.
A fine pass from Jeremy Chiang on the right, found Jerome Baker right near the corner flag. Managing to evade his marker, Baker crossed to a looming Liam Shotton. The substitute managed to head home from close range to bring the score to 3-1.
Jerome Baker had another chance to head home a cross from Fazli Jaffar, however, his header went wide.
The Cheetahs will next meet defending champions Tampines Rovers at Clementi Stadium this Saturday.
Fadhil Salim, Syaqir Sulaiman, Hasree Zais, Fazly Hasan (Jeremy Chiang 51′), Lau Meng Meng, Azhar Sairudin, Faizal Amir (Liam Shotton 78′), Robert Eziakor ( Fazli Jaffar 45′), Nurhilmi Jasni, Mamadou Diallo, Jerome Baker
Zaiful Nizam, Obadin Aikhena, Syed Thaha, Hamqaamal Shah Hamzah, Ridwan Jamil, Tengku Mushadad, Park Kang-jin (Shafuan Sutomoh 88′), Poh Yi Feng, Kim Minho (Ruhaizad Ismail 58′), Jung Heebong, Qiu Li (Patrick Paran 85′)