Mislav Karoglan 81’
It was a story of near misses on a rain-soaked Sunday night at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium, where both teams, Hougang and the SAF Warriors, badly needed a win to restart their season.
Both teams were had experienced painful defeats last time round. Hougang were looking to add on to their lucky streak at the Warriors Dome, where they had won the last two meetings last season. Faizal Amir returned to the right-back slot, after serving a match suspension. Ignatius Ang returned to the bench. Fazli Jaffar returned to his much favoured left wing slot.
For the Warriors, a four game losing streak is much needed to instill confidence into a line-up that was full of promises for the Warriors faithful, but so far had been disappointing. Noh Rahman was dropped to the bench, in favour of the much youthful Zulfadhli Zainal Abidin.
Hougang looked like a more hungrier side, and had started to attack from the first kick of the game. From the kick-off spot, Diallo ran towards the Warrior's penalty box, however, shot harmlessly wide.
The quadrant attacking line of Barac-Hilmi- Diallo- Jordan was keeping the Warriors busy all night. They had dominated the midfield particularly in the first half, however, chances after chances came, but the Cheetahs just could not find a finish.
The chief suspect was particularly Mamadou Diallo. In need of a boost of confidence, thrice in the first half, he had opportunities, particularly from the ever impressive Fazli Jaffar, who had completely dominated the left wing. However, Diallo scoffed his chances.
Jordan Webb, Cheetahs' chief executor, was impressive all night, rouding up Zulfadhli and Erwan Gunawan into a heap most of the time, however, he too had missed the best chance of the night, when Diallo found him unmarked in the box, but he shot it well above the bar.
The second half was a similar story altogether. Diallo and Jordan both had completely bulldozed the Warrior's ageing pair of Daniel Bennett and Bah Mamadou. But Shahril Jantan, the Warriors' custodian, showed why Singapore had missed a pair of safe hands, winning every one-on-one battle with the blistering pair.
Up till the ten minutes break, due to a power failure, the Warriors' attacking pair of Mislav Kaorglan and Fazrul Nawaz had only conjured two attacks all game. However, after the break, Warriors found their momentum.
All Hougang's hardwork and gameplan went into the drain, when Warriors conjured up a counter attack after wayward corner kick from their own half. A clearance, found Karoglan in the Cheetah's half. He played the ball to Tatsuro Inui, who perfectly executed his cross to found an unmarked Karoglan, who found his much needed goal after 81 minutes.
However, the Cheetahs are famous for their tenaciousness, and almost found an equalizer a minute after. A good play from Diallo, found Vidakovic and Jordan unmarked in the box. However, the Guinean took his own chance and missed the target completely.
The Cheetahs rued their missed chances into the game. A fourth straight defeat means that SAF found themselves tied on 11 points with the Cheetahs, but having a game in hand. The Cheetahs will head to the ground of the team "which every team wants to beat", the Harimau Muda on Friday.
CHEETAHS MAN OF THE MATCH: Hasree Zais had shown glimpse of a National Team calibre defender so far this season and had been a revelation for the Cheetahs so far, forming a fantastic partnership with Croatian Vidakovic so far. With Daniel Bennett already turning 34 soon, we might be looking into one of the most exciting talents in the S-League soon enough.
CHEETAHS' VERDICT: Another game where the Cheetahs completely terrorized every area in the field, however, they have once again left their scoring boots so far. They need to start converting chances once again, as their performances so far had not been converted into points. Late goals often disappoint the Hougang faithfuls, who needed the spirit of last season, where they had often in points after being down for most of the games.
Fadhil Salim, Hasree Zais, Stanislav Vidakovic, Faizal Amir, Lau Meng Meng (c) , Jordan Webb, Ante Barac, Azhar Sairudin (Basit Hamid, 65), Nurhilmi Jasni, Mamadou Diallo, Fazli Jaffar (Sobrie Mazelan, 84)
SUBS NOT USED: Ridzuan Fatah, Syaqir Sulaiman, Ridhwan Osman, Ignatius Ang, Farhan Rahmat
Shahril Jantan, Daniel Bennett (c), Bah Mamadou, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Eddie Affendy Chang,Shimpei Sakurada, Shukor Zailan, Erwan Gunawan (Noh Rahman, 88), Tatsuro Inui, Fazrul Nawaz, Mislav Karoglan (Razaleigh Khalik, 90)
SUBS NOT USED: Rezal Hassan, Shariff Shaik, Hafsyar Farkhan, Junaidy Salleh, Prakash Manikam (SOURCE)