Syaqir Sulaiman opens his scoring account. PHOTO: S-league
Tampines Rovers' unbeaten record came to a grinding halt when they lost to a determined Hougang United side. It could have been a case of fatigue for the Stags but if you were there at the stadium, you could tell the Cheetahs put in an awesome fight throughout the 90mins.
Hougang United were on the go from the start of whistle and in the first 10 mins had created mouth watering glimpses of an enticing evening. Azhar Sairudin was amongst the eager first to test the nerves of national keeper Hassan Sunny when he ballooned his shot wide after connecting from a Jordan Webb cross.
Minutes later, Jordy also got into the action when his splitting sprint got the better of the Stags left back and fired one in, only for the keeper to deflect the ball to safety.
On the 35th min, the Cheetahs were awarded a corner kick and Argentinian midfielder maestro Carlos Delgado took charge of the set piece to whip the ball into an overcrowded 6 yard box.
Only Syaquir Sulaiman rose above the rest to head the ball into the Tampines net via some confusion. The ball bounced awkwardly off the ground and squirmed it's way into goal.
Hougang fans went ..berserk. Unbelievable, but the Cheetahs were up 1-0 at half time.
To the tune of the first, the second half proved no less dramatic.
Midfielder Sobrie Mazelan marched down the right channel into the box only to observe his efforts push away by the Stags keeper. Mohd Noor Ali then swooped in to pick up the loose ball but was brought down by keeper Hassan Sunny. The ref immediately pointed to the penalty spot and Sunny received his marching order.
Carlos Delgado stepped up to the ball and made no mistake from the spot kick. 2-0 the Cheetahs.
Fans and supporters were in a delirious mood, and were already chanting the Hougang songs and cheering the Cheethas on.
By then Tampines Rovers who were down to 10 men were clearly zapped mentally and probably physically but they continued to press on. However, the back four under the stewardship of Shariff Samat stood firm and prevailed for the remaining 20 mins.
"Quizzed about the impact the boisterous Hougang fans made, the former national skipper expressed his gratitude.
"The fans have been superb, they raise our energy levels every time,” he remarked.
It clearly showed today as the boys were motivated, whenever their names were sung or the team was being chanted. So we have to thank them.” - Aide Iskandar
Hougang United fans continued to cheer the players even after the game ended, and waited for the players to exit the Stadium, a tradition the Hougang United supporters intend to uphold. We'll shake the hands of the boys and the coach too, before seeing them off to a good night's rest. :)