News • June 14, 2016
Cheetahs Steal A Point Off Tigers Right At The Death
Written by: Shawn Lim
Hougang United mounted a late comeback to hold Balestier Khalsa to a 2-2 draw at Toa Payoh Stadium on Friday night in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League.
The Cheetahs looked all dead and buried after the Tigers had gone two goals up through new signing Niko Tokic and Fazli Ayob, but goals from Fumiya Kogure and Stipe Plazibat helped the visitors claim a point right at the death.
Sheikh Abdul Hadi had threatened to open the scoring for the Tigers inside eight minutes of the game when he climbed the highest to meet Fazli Ayob’s free-kick at the far post, but the defender’s header grazed narrowly over the crossbar.
Balestier found the opener two minutes later when Tokic ran onto Miroslav Kristic’s flick on and rounded Cheetahs custodian Khairulhin Khalid before slamming the ball into the back of the net to open his account on his debut.
The visitors struggled to break down a well-disciplined Balestier side after that and were unable to create any meaningful chances as the half dragged on.
The Tigers however, replicated their start to the first-half in the second period and went further ahead on the hour mark when a fantastic strike from Fazli Ayob just on the edge of the 18-yard box found the back of the net.
Balestier custodian Zaiful Nizam showed off some amazing reflexes in the 62nd minute to tip over Wahyudi Wahid’s close-range effort as the Cheetahs upped the ante in search of a comeback.
Hougang had another fantastic chance to reduce the deficit two minutes later when Stipe Plazibat fired a piledriver from outside the box, but the Croatian’s shot was deflected out for a corner.
The hosts could have finished off the game in the 78th minute, but substitute Fadhil Noh saw his effort hit the foot of the post.
Sensing that the Tigers were starting to tire, coach K.Balagumaran threw on attacking players Nazrul Nazari, Iqbal Hussain and Nur Ridho in an attempt to bolster the Cheetahs’ attack and take advantage of the situation.
The move almost worked wonders in the 81st minute when Nazrul’s cross found Kogure unmarked at the far post, but the Japanese sent his effort high and wide despite being just inches away from the goalmouth.
Kogure however, made up for his mistake when he found himself in a similar situation in the 86th minute after Zaiful had punched away Plazibat’s header into his path, finishing with aplomb.
Hougang finally drew level four minutes later when Fadli Kamis was adjudged to have handled the ball in the 18-yard box and Plazibat confidently sent his spot-kick into the top corner of the net.
There was a chance Balestier to claim all three points as the game drew to a close, but Tokic saw his close-range effort come crashing off the woodwork.
Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic: “We should have finished the game but we did not and they scored one goal and one penalty and then everything was gone.
“We worked hard, of course scoring two goals and then we hit the woodwork twice but we were just very unlucky.”
Hougang United coach K.Balagumaran: “We didn’t play well for the first 45 minutes, totally not following our gameplan.
“Balestier defended well, but I would say we were quite impatient trying to break them so they scored two goals from the counter.
“It’s never easy trying to beat Balestier, so I have to be happy with one point, especially after conceding two goals.”
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Fadli Kamis, Hanafi Salleh, Nurullah Hussein, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Emir Lotinac (Danial Tan Farhan 77′), Fazli Ayob (Fadhil Noh 74′), Shah Hirul, Zulkiffli Hassim (Jamil Ali 59′), Miroslav Kristic, Niko Tokic
Hougang United: Khairulhin Khalid (GK), Delwinder Singh, Faiz Salleh, Wahyudi Wahid, Fairoz Hasan (Nazrul Nazari 57′), Raihan Rahman (Iqbal Hussain 57′), M.Anumanthan, Nurhilmi Jasni (Nur Ridho 71′), Fumiya Kogure, Jozef Kaplan (C), Stipe Plazibat