Singapore Premier League • June 20, 2014
Moura Earn Cheetahs Valuable Point
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Geison Moura cancelled out Miljan Mrdakovic’s opener as Tampines Rovers were held to a 1-1 draw by Hougang United at Clementi Stadium on Thursday evening.
The result saw Tampines leapfrog Warriors FC into second spot in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League standings albeit with a game in hand with the latter scheduled to play Woodlands Wellington on Friday night.
Hougang on the other hand, are unbeaten in four games and remain sixth, one point behind Albirex Niigata (S).
Going into this match without suspended regulars Wahyudi Wahid, Shunsuke Nakatake and Erwan Gunawan, it meant it was was not going to be easy going for the Cheetahs.
The absence of Nakatake was in particular a big miss for Amin Nasir’s side as they struggled to keep possession in midfield.
Igor Ferreira meanwhile made his debut for Hougang as he slotted alongside Firman Hanif in central defence and had a relatively decent game, hardly putting a foot wrong.
It was Hougang who almost drew first blood in the third minute but Fairoz Hasan skied his shot from close range off Diego Gama’s cutback.
Tampines then suffered a blow minutes later when left-back Shaiful Esah pulled his hamstring and had to be replaced with Abdil Qaiyyim coming on in his place.
Both goalkeepers were hardly tested thereafter with the next noteworthy chance coming only a quarter of an hour into the match.
Jozef Kaplan’s cross was nodded back by Ismadi Mukhtar into the path of Mrdakovic but the Tampines marquee signing could only head over from six yards out.
The Stags fashioned another chance on 34 minutes and this time Fadhil Salim did well to push away Shahdan Sulaiman’s 20-yard freekick at his near post before Noh Alam Shah sent a harmless header wide moments later.
Just as the two teams were heading into the break with nothing between them, Mrdakovic made amends for his earlier miss to put the Stags in front just before half-time.
Racing down the right, Ismadi then sent an accurate cross into the box and the Serbian forward proceeded to power a header into Fadhil’s bottom corner for his ninth goal of the season.
Ismadi almost turned from provider to scorer a minute after the opener, latching onto Shahdan’s pass from deep but his first-touch let him down on the occasion as the chance went begging.
After the restart, Gama could have put Hougang back on level terms with a header off a freekick but Justin Pasfield was equal to the task as he saved it at his near post.
At the other end, Fadhil made a flying save to keep out Kaplan’s curling shot in the 53rd minute to keep his side in the game as the visitors found themselves back on level terms ten minutes later.
Off a Lau Meng Meng cross, Moura glanced a header which caught Pasfield by surprise as it nestled into the bottom corner to make it 1-1.
Substitute Imran Sahib nearly restored parity just a minute after coming on but screwed a low shot wide after pouncing onto a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area.
Buoyed by the equaliser, Hougang went in search of the elusive winner and came closest six minutes from time.
After successfully dispossessing a Tampines player, Fazli broke free down the left before crossing it low into the box.
However, Gama arrived late at the far post and narrowly failed to get a touch on the ball as both teams walked away with a point each.