Jordan Webb 65'
Hougang United coach Nenad Bacina cut a relieved figure after seeing his side end a six-game losing streak in the Great Eastern-YEO's S.League on Thursday evening.
The Cheetahs headed into their game against Tanjong Pagar United at the Jalan Besar Stadium without a point from their last six league outings, but managed to grab a 1-0 win thanks to Jordan Webb's well-taken volley in the 65th minute.
While the game was fairly even in the possession stakes, Hougang had created the better chances and could have taken the lead as early as the second minute when centre-back Stanislav Vidakovic flicked a header back off the woodwork.
And in an largely scrappy encounter that was devoid of many clear-cut openings, Bacina insisted he was pleased his charges managed to get the result more than anything, after style had failed to produce the three points in their last few games.
"We were initially frustrated but this is what I expected," he said after the game. "We knew they [Tanjong Pagar] were going to defend more and I told my players it was going to be a frustrating game, but we had to remain patient.
"If we had scored in the second minute when we hit the post through Vidakovic, I think the game would have developed in another way.
"So far, we've been playing well but have always lost our matches. After six defeats in a row, the players felt the pressure which is why this is a good victory.
"It definitely wasn't the best performance, but this is the first time we've managed to collect the three points even though it wasn't a good performance."
Despite the hard-fought nature of the win, there was plenty for Bacina to be pleased about, especially with Webb racking up his eighth goal of the campaign, while his backline kept only their third clean sheet - and their first since March 3 - of the season.
Nonetheless, the Croatian was keen to stress that the three points had only been possible thanks to well-rounded team effort.
"Football is definitely a team game and he [Webb] was supported by his team-mates, but there will always be a lucky one who scores the winning goal," Bacina added. "Tonight [Thursday] it was Jordan.
We have to play as a team and this is a team victory, regardless of who scored the goal and who defended at the back."
Tanjong Pagar coach Terry Pathmanathan revealed his frustration after only finding out he was unable to field new signing Gilbert Bayonne earlier on Thursday for reasons yet unknown, and feels the Haitian striker could have made a difference.
"The deeper problem that arose from the game was the unavailability of our players," Pathmanathan revealed.
"At the 11th hour, I was informed I could not use my striker Gilbert. Suddenly, I was in a fix.
"I honestly feel Gilbert could have given us something with his physique. If you look at the game, [Vidakovic] didn't even have to jump and he was winning all the aerial balls."
Nonetheless, the former Singapore international reveals he was extremely pleased with the performance from his players, and is already looking forward to next week's game against Albirex Niigata.
"I'm very proud of what the players showed on the pitch," he added. "I'm really amazed they played so well that now I'm thinking how I'm going to use them for the next game.
"Although we lost, it was an excellent performance and we deserved at least a point. I'm sad that we have nothing to show for after that performance, but I'm very proud with each and every one that played today [Thursday]."
Pathmanathan will be without the services of forward Takaya Kawanabe for the game against Albirex after he picked up a second booking four minutes from the end for diving inside the
Hougang box in search of a penalty.
While Sukhbir Singh's decision to issue Kawanabe his marching orders is likely to raise some debate, the Jaguars boss refused to question the referee's call.
"A sending off is always controversial but I've always believed in giving the referee the benefit of the doubt," Pathmanathan said.
"He calls the shots and is the nearest to the action; if he makes the decision I accept it."
While Tanjong Pagar will be looking to bounce back against the White Swans next Thursday, Hougang aren't in league action again until July 11 when they travel to Geylang United. (SOURCE)