Jozef Kapland 84’ (Pen)
Azhar Sairudin 48’, Jordan Webb 93’
Hougang United notched their second successive win with a 2-1 victory over Geylang United in an evenly-contested match which was settled by a stoppage-time winner from their talismanic winger, Jordan Webb.
Azhar Sairudin put the Cheetahs ahead before Jozef Kaplan looked to have earned his team a point, only for Webb to strike right at the death.
New Geylang signing Stefan Milojevic had the first chance of the game with a freekick attempt from just outside the box, but Fadhil Salim palmed his strike away to safety.
In the 24th minute, Webb found himself unmarked at the far post, but he inexplicably chose to head the ball back across goal instead of at it, as a good opening went begging.
The Canadian did take the shot on minutes later, but Geylang goalkeeper Yazid Yasin was equal to his fierce drive as he blocked well.
Kaplan found himself free at the near post on the half hour, but the Slovakian midfielder got his angles all wrong as he glanced a corner wide.
Webb was proving to be the most dangerous attacking outlet for the Cheetahs, with a last-ditch covering tackle needed to deny him on one occasion, before he was crowded out in the box after waltzing past two defenders.
The winger should have done better though when a half-cleared corner was played back to him, but he lashed a rasping drive over the bar as both sides went into half-time deadlocked.
That deadlock was broken just three minutes into the second half.
A freekick from Ante Barac was headed clear only as far as Azhar Sairudin, who steadied himself before thumping a superb half-volley from 25 yards into the bottom corner to give Hougang the lead.
Michael King attempted to lob Fadhil from range after the Hougang custodian had rushed out to clear a ball, but the goal was never threatened as the shot went well over the bar.
The Englisman then produced a sublime cross from the left for Kaplan, whose header crashed off the upright with Fadhil well beaten.
Hougang coach Nenad Bacina was left clutching his head in disbelief in the 75th minute when Mamadou Diallo somehow miskicked from six yards out as the goal gaped in front of him.
His frustrations were deepened six minutes before time, when a penalty was awarded to Geylang for what appeared to be a shove in the back of an Eagles player by Barac.
Kaplan duly smashed the spot-kick into the back of the net for the equaliser, despite Fadhil getting a hand to the ball.
But Hougang continued to press for a winner and they got their reward in the dying moments of the match.
Webb twisted and turned on the right of the box, before jinking to his right and hammering the ball into Yazid’s near post to seal the game.
There was little doubt how much the goal meant to him, as he tore off his shirt before racing towards where the small bunch of Hougang Hools were and leaping over the stands to celebrate with them as the final whistle went shortly after.
Hougang “not all about Jordan”
A resigned Noor Ali bemoaned the lack of composure from his team in the final minutes in an even contest.
The Geylang coach, standing in for head coach Vedhamuthu Kanan, who is away for a coaching course, said:
“Losing at the last minute, I think it is a bit tough. The game was quite even and I thought we deserved a draw but these are things that the boys have to learn; in the last minute of the game, you should not be playing around your own area.
“They have quality players like Jordan (Webb), who can kill the game. He did nothing the whole game, but he just had one chance and he scored one goal.”
However, he was quick to credit his players for coming back strongly after conceding the first goal.
“We played well and had chances to score… We conceded at the last minute which was the disappointing part, but besides that I am happy with the performance of the team.”
A beaming Nenad Bacina was effusive in his praise for his team after the match, noting that it was not easy coming back to win the game with so little time left after they conceded.
“Two days ago, we went out of the Singapore Cup, but morale (before this game) was high, which was why we won. I felt the pressure inside the changing room and the players felt it too; we were conscious of how important this match was for us.
“I have to congratulate my players for their effort; they never gave up and they showed their character. Geylang defended very well in the first half and my players were frustrated, but we managed to control everything and I think we deserved the three points in the end.”
Responding to queries that Hougang were becoming too reliant on Webb, he brushed aside such claims and reasserted that every performance was very much a team effort.
“Before we scored (the winner), a few players had touched the ball and Jordan was the final one, the lucky one I would say, who scored the goal.
“Hougang is not about Jordan or Nenad… we are all about the team and we are scoring goals as a team and conceding as a team.”
Geylang: Yazid Yasin (C), Khairulnizam Jumahat, Shahril Alias, Khayrulhayat Jumat (Faizal Samad 64’), Syed Fadhil, Ishak Zainol (Taufiq Ghani 75’), Ang Zhiwei, Jozef Kaplan, Stefan Milojevic, Mun Seung Man, Rizawan Abdullah (Michael King 41’).
Unused subs: Ridhuan Barudin, Mubarak Ahamad, Jalal, Hassan Aziz.
Hougang: Fadhil Salim, Fazly Hasan, Hasree Zais, Stanislav Vidakovic, Lau Meng Meng (C), Ante Barac, Azhar Sairudin (Faizal Amir 74’), Jordan Webb, Sobrie Mazelan, Basit Hamid (Syaqir Sulaiman 87’), Mamadou Diallo.
Unused subs: Ng Jia Fa, Ridhwan Osman, Nurhilmi Jasni. (SOURCE)