|Photo: Chris Harvey|
Benoit Croissant 93'
Diallo Mamadou 45'
A late injury time goal by Benoit Croissant sank the Hougang faithful hearts, after leading for the entire second half, however, the goal was given through controversial decisions.
Hougang’s custodian Fadhil Salim attempted to clear the cross that came from the Tampines right wing, however, Basit Hamid, who was also attempted to clear the ball, was adjudged to be fouled. The ball instead hit the post, and Benoit Croissant wasted no chance to head the ball into the net.
The linesman raised his flag initially for infringement, only for referee Sukhbir Singh to point towards the centre circle to award the goal. The linesman then reversed his decision and decided to follow the referee’s order.
The controversial decision sparked angry scenes from the crowd and the Hougang players, who thought the goal should be disallowed.
Earlier, Hougang came into the game, as clear underdogs, after two straight defeats against Balestier Khalsa and Home United. Syaqir Sulaiman was the only absentee from the Hougang starting XII, due to a knee injury. In his place, Hasree Zais took his responsibility to partner the ever impressive Stanislav Vidakovic in the heart of defence. Nurhilmi Jasni was again preferred to start, ahead of Hougang veteran striker, Sobrie Mazelan.
Tampines wasted no chance, in proving they are champions worthy. Twice, they breached the Hougang defence in the first half. First, Jamil Ali was sent clear by through pass by Ismadi Mokhtar, only to collapse in a heap after a collision with Hougang custodian, Fadhil Salim.
Alexander Duric then had the chance in 17 minutes, again sent clear by Mustaffic Fahrudin, but he blast the ball through the side netting.
Hougang then made things difficult when Azhar Sairudin was given his marching orders on 25 minutes, when he was adjudged to be stamping Ali Hudzaifi. The former had wanted to avoid a collision against Ali, however, his boot landed on Ali’s stomach, sparking a temporary melee against each sides. Ali was given a caution for his dangerous lunge.
However, after Hougang change their gameplay into defensive mode, they look more of a formidable side. On 37 minutes, a Diallo piledriver freekick from 35 yards almost gave Hougang a shock lead. Diallo would then made amends by giving the vociferous Hougang Hools and the neutral fans a favour just into injury time before half-time
A rare mistake from Sasa Dreven, who handled the ball outside his own box, and Hougang were awarded a direct free kick. Mamadou Diallo made no mistake in lobbing the ball above the defensive wall and Sasa Dreven, and into the net.
By half time, the vociferous Hougang Hools had given the Cheetahs a boost, by showing why they are the S-League’s main feature in the highlight shows.
In the second half, Tampines had given their all to try and breach the entire Hougang defensive unit. However, particularly Alexander Duric, who had the entire Hougang backline on him, whenever he had the ball, wasted many chances.
Tampines best chance came on 87th minute, after Duric had headed towards the Hougang net, after a fine cross from the left, only for substitute Ignatius Ang to clear the ball off the line.
However, the moment of controversy cost Hougang their shock win, however, Hougang would receive the plaudits of many to hold the Stags in their own backyard.
CHEETAHS VERDICT: Hougang looks more of a defensive unit in this game. Eventhough they had ten men in their own half, however, they managed to counter attack everytime the Stags had given the ball away in the midfield. However, Hougang needed to sharpen their attack to convert the chances that might come their way.
MAN OF THE MATCH: If there is to be the MVP award in this match, this would be given to every single one of the Hougang players that were on the field. However, Stanislav Vidakovic justified the reason why coach Neno had persuade him to come to Singapore and play for the Cheetahs. He led the defensive line very well, and had occasionally threatened the Stags defence, whenever the Cheetahs had a corner. His two goals, as a centre half, had shown his attacking instincts, particularly during Hougang’s setpieces.
Fadhil Salim, Hasree Zais, Stanislav Vidakovic, Faizal Amir, Lau Meng Meng (c), Azhar Sairudin (sent off,25),Jordan Webb, Ante Barac, Nurhilmi Jasni (Ridhwan Osman, 78), Fazli Jaffar (Basit Hamid, 85), Mamadou Diallo (Ignatius Ang, 90)
SUBS NOT USED: Ridzuan Fatah, Khayrulhayat Jumat, Sobrie Mazelan, Fazly Hasan
Sasa Dreven, Benoit Croissant, Ali Hudzaifi (Davor Piskor, 46), Jufri Taha, Anaz Hadee, Fahrudin Mustaffic, Ismadi Mukhtar, Sazali Salleh(Ahmad Fahmie, 79), Jamil Ali(Fazil Zailani, 27), Gligor Gligorov, Alexander Duric
SUBS NOT USED: Fariq Ghani, Syaiful Iskandar, Hairulnazri Hanafi, Haziq Azman