Prime League • March 26, 2014
Prime League: Profligate Warriors Denied By Resolute Cheetahs
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
A wasteful Warriors FC side were held to a goalless draw by Hougang United in a Great Eastern Yeo’s Prime League encounter at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Monday night.
This result sees the Warriors extend their unbeaten run to three games, although all have ended in draws as they go in search of their first win.
The home side saw Suria Prakash’s spot kick saved, but were otherwise dominant against a Hougang team who defended resiliently to earn a point. Also, the Cheetahs had goalkeeper Nur Hakiim Sutar to thank as the 21-year-old pulled off crucial saves to keep his side in the game.
It was Warriors however who started the brighter of the two as they threatened early on with the nippy Suria flashing two shots wide in the opening 20 minutes.
Rasmus Fristedt then similarly had attempts on goal but failed to trouble Nur Hakiim before Haiqal Noor came closest to opening the scoring just before the half-hour mark.
Breaking free of the Hougang defence, Haiqal was denied by Nur Hakiim who kept out the former’s shot with his legs in an one-on-one.
Warriors were presented with another opportunity to take the lead five minutes after the restart when Aidil Rahim handled the ball in the box which prompted the referee to point to the spot.
Up stepped Suria but Nur Hakiim went the right way to keep out the former’s weak penalty to make his second penalty save this season, with the first coming against the National Football Academy U18 in their previous game.
Nur Hakiim was called into action again on the 70th minute mark when Marcus Wheeler’s low cross found Suria but the Hougang custodian thwarted the winger with his legs.
With time running out, Warriors could have nicked it right at the death through substitute Shahrul Syafiq but it was not to be.
First, Shahrul sent a header straight into the gloves of Nur Hakiim before he hit a tame shot which Nur Hakiim easily dealt with with seconds remaining as both teams settled for a point each.
Although they failed to create many chances, Hougang coach Nor Azli Mohd was pleased with his team’s display.
“We were tight in defence today, we covered each other and that was the plan. I am very happy because the players played to the instructions given,” he said after the match.
“We didn’t come here to defend, but wanted to keep things tight at the back. We did not [want to] give them too much space because they have a good target man in Raden [Ishmadi] and two good wingers.
“Overall, i’m happy with the point.”
He also reserved praise for goalkeeper Nur Hakiim who denied the Warriors time and again, including a penalty save.
“This boy always comes down to train with the S.League team, that’s him. He’s got character and you need this kind of player because they are winners, they hate losing,” Nor Azli remarked.
“When you have this kind of goalkeeper, you don’t have to worry.”
On the other hand, Warriors coach Kevin Wee was left to rue his side’s profligacy for the third game running.
“With the number of chances we had, we should have scored,” he lamented.
“We just need to be sharper in front of goal. The issue is not about creating, we created much more but it’s the finishing. My main concern right now is finishing, sharpening up in front of goal and i’d rather face it now rather than later.
“But it’s only the third game of the season and not the end of the world yet. The positive about the draw is the draw itself and for me, the clean sheet.”
Wee however refused to fault Suria who missed a second-half penalty which could have earned them their first victory of the season if converted.
“I’m not going to fault any player for a penalty miss because i always believe there’s no one player who choose to miss a penalty,” he said.
“It’s just one of those days where it just did not happen and i have to continue believing in them – that’s all i will do.”
Warriors FC: Fahmi Ja’afar (GK), Marcus Wheeler, Nur Asyidiq Sukarto, Basit Mansoor, Jamilul Hadi, Rasmus Fristedt (Shahrul Syafiq 73’), Amin Rossady (C), Haiqal Noor, Khadri Joffery, Suria Prakash (Aminshafie Sa’ad 71’), Raden Ishmadi (Gautam Selvamany 62’).
Hougang United: Nur Hakiim Sutar (GK), Rayyan Mohamed, Aidil Rahim, Benedict Chua, Haidil Sufian, Hydhir Mohamad (Nor Syafiq Rosli 76’), Haidhar Raffick (C), Wan Norisham (Zulcarlnaen Zulkiflee 63’), Al Nazirul Islam, Faridzuan Fuad, Haikal Ramlan.