Hougang United returned to winning ways on Saturday night after a hard fought 2-1 win over Geylang International at Bedok Stadium in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League.
The Cheetahs had gone into the game on the back of a seven-game winless run, but teamwork and accuracy in front of goal saw the visitors finally walking away with three points and moving level on points with third-placed Home United in the league table.
Stipe Plazibat had Hougang’s first sight of goal inside 10 minutes of the game when he wriggled his way to the near post from the left flank, but Geylang custodian Syazwan Buhari managed to block the Croatian’s shot with his legs.
The Eagles came close themselves in the 21st minute when Shawal Anuar dribbled his way into the 18-yard box and took a crack at goal, but Hougang custodian Khairulhin Khalid was on hand to palm away the ball.
Shawal was then guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance to put the Eagles ahead in the 37th minute after Carlos Delgado and Gabriel Quak had linked up well to set him up, as the midfielder failed to connect with the latter’s low cross into the box from six-yards out.
The hosts continued to threaten and could have gone into the break with the lead when Quak was played through on goal three minutes before the interval, but shot straight at Khairulhin after cutting in from the right wing.
Geylang begin the second period on the front foot and a presentable opportunity arrived for them to break the deadlock in the 57th minute when Quak was played through on goal, but Faiz Salleh did well to track back to block the former’s shot after the former had rounded Khairulhin.
The breakthrough arrived for Hougang three minutes after the hour mark when an incisive passing move that began near the halfway line saw M.Anumanthan sending Nur Ridho scurrying down the right flank before threading a pass through to Josef Kaplan.
The Cheetahs’ captain managed to control the ball as the Geylang defence closed in on him, before sidefooting it past Syazwan for his fourth goal of the season.
The Eagles almost replied immediately in the 66th minute when Amy’s shot at point-blank was clawed away by Khairulhin, before the goalkeeper recovered in time to push the striker’s rebound shot on to the crossbar and away to safety.
Geylang had another opportunity to pull level in the 76th minute when a wonderful pass by Shawal sent Amy through on goal, but the striker sent his shot into the sidenetting with only Khairulhin to beat.
Syazwan’s reflexes was put to the test two minutes later when he had to get down well to parry away Kogure’s fierce drive from the edge of the area.
However, there was nothing Syazwan could do in the 85th minute when Plazibat met Ridho’s cross at the far post and blasted the ball home.
Amy managed to pull a goal back for the Eagles in stoppage time after Khairulhin was beaten at his near post, but it turned out to be the consolation goal for the hosts as the final whistle arrived minutes later.
Geylang International coach Hasrin Jailani: “It’s very simple. If you don’t take your chances and don’t score, you don’t win games.
“We had four or five opportunities to put the ball in the net; it was not good enough and we deserved to lose today.”
Hougang United coach K.Balagumaran: “The win is a relief because we haven’t been winning to get it away from home is even better.
“I think we deserved to win because of the hard work the boys have been putting in this Ramadhan, with extra training and so many games in such a short time.
“Geylang played very well and I think the game could have gone either way, but we took our chances well.”
Match report by Shawn Lim
Photo courtesy of Haiqal Tahir