ALBIREX NIIGATA(S) 2
Kazuki Sakamoto 42′, 59′
HOUGANG UNITED 1
Mamadou Diallo 17′
Despite taking an early lead, Hougang were defeated by a spirited Swans team determined to catch up rivals Tampines Rovers in the S.League table.
The Cheetahs started strongly in the game, almost taking the lead on two occasions. Fazli Jaffar, who recently discovered his sparkling form, almost providing an assist to Nurhilmi Jasni in the first minute. But the latter, didnt managed to connect the ball.
Fazli and Diallo then combined a minute later, however, Liam Shotton, once again arrived late to meet the cross, and the ball deflected off the striker for an Albirex throw.
The Cheetahs were throwing everything towards the Albirex defence, however the Albirex defence were soaking everything. However, on 17 minutes, the Cheetahs took the lead.
A cross from Azhar Sairudin was chested down by Nurhilmi Jasni, who was then pulled down by one of the Swans’ defence. However, Mamadou Diallo managed to arrive at the right time to pounce on the ball and scored past Hiroaki Hara for the opening goal of the match.
That put the Swans on alert mode as they went all out searching for the equalizer. Bruno Castanheira, looking the liveliest player on the pitch, almost scoring on two occasions with a header and a shot wide. Kazuki Sakamoto found the net on 29 minutes, after a pass from Nagasaki, but it was ruled offside by the assistant referee.
However, Sakamoto managed to find an equalizer. Receiving a pass from the defence, Sakamoto was adjudged to be in an offside position. However, the assistant referee did not waved his flag, and Sakamoto proceed to blast his shot past Fadhil Salim on 42 minutes for the elusive equalizer.
That was the score at half time, and the Swans came back a different side in the second half. The players went behind the ball and found every opportunity to break down the Cheetahs defensive wall on every opportunity to counter attack, however the Hougang wall stands firm.
However, the wall was finally breached after Bruno Castanheira managed to pounce on a mistake by Syaqir Sulaiman. The Brazillian-Japanese winger managed to evade Syaqir again on a second occasion and presented the simplest of tap ins for Kazuki Sakamoto to slot the ball past Fadhil Salim and for his second goal.
Liam Shotton was kept quiet by the Swans’ defence throughout the game. However, after Fazli Jaffar managed to wriggle past the Albirex right flank and crossed the ball towards Shotton, he mistimed the header and went past the right hand post wide.
That prompted Johana to introduce the rejuvenated Jerome Baker for the quieter Liam Shotton upfront. And Baker almost scored with his first opportunity, after evading his marker. However, the ball deflected off his marker for a corner.
The Swans’ were finding opportunity to find another defensive mistake, however, Fadhil Salim and Faizal Amir, both Hougang’s best players on the pitch of the night, got to almost every ball that went past their defensive wall. However, the Cheetahs could not find the elusive equalizer, thus falling to their seventh defeat of the season.
Fadhil Salim, Syaqir Sulaiman, Hasree Zais, Faizal Amir, Lau Meng Meng (c), Thomas Beattie (Fairoz Hasan 76′), Azhar Sairudin, Nurhilmi Jasni (Basit Hamid 83′), Fazli Jaffar, Mamadou Diallo, Liam Shotton (Jerome Baker 68′)
Hiroaki Hara, Masahiro Ishikawa, Yuki Ichikawa, Kento Fukuda, Shuhei Hotta (c), Itsuki Yamada, Shingo Suzuki (Takeshi Nagasawa 59′), Kento Nagasaki, Masatake Sato (Kazuya Fukuzaki 90′), Bruno Castanheira, Kazuki Sakamoto (Yoshinaga Arima 87′)