News • June 24, 2016
Second-Half Resurgence Earn Warriors Consecutive Win
Written by: Ryan Low
After just two wins in their first 14 matches, the Warriors now have two victories in two matches after overcoming Hougang United 3-1 at Hougang Stadium on Thursday night.
Hougang had led at half time courtesy of Nurhilmi Jasni’s header, but the Warriors turned things around after the break with Hafiz Nor, Shaiful Esah and Jonathan Behe all getting onto the scoresheet.
Buoyed by last Wednesday’s 2-0 victory against Geylang International, Razif Onn’s side started the game the more confident side and could have scored inside two minutes.
Madhu Mohana’s long throw caused mayhem in the area, before Hafiz Nor drew a diving save from Hougang goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid.
Hougang gradually settled into the game though, with Stipe Plazibat clipping the bar on 26 minutes after being picked out by captain Jozef Kaplan inside the area.
The Cheetahs continued to control proceedings and duly broke the deadlock five minutes before half time, with Nurhilmi criminally left unmarked to head home Fumiya Kogure’s inswinging corner.
The Warriors returned for the second half with much more vigour, with Nikola Rak forcing Khairulhin to parry his 20-yard snapshot before Madhu Mohana headed over Shaiful’s deep cross.
Hougang were then forced to regroup in defence, with centre back Delwinder Singh limping off due to injury. Yusiskandar Yusop came on to replace the former, but could not stop the Warriors from grabbing a deserved equaliser three minutes after his introduction.
The 31-year-old was unable to snuff out Behe’s through pass, with Hafiz Nor striding onto the ball like a flash before finishing inside Khairulhin’s near post.
Hougang did have a couple of good opportunities to retake the lead thereafter, but Kaplan and Plazibat both failed to put their efforts on target.
Eventually they were made to pay for their profligacy as the Warriors scored twice in quick succession late on to complete the comeback.
Firstly, on 85 minutes, Shaiful curled home a stunning 30-yard freekick that left Khairulhin rooted to the spot. Four minutes later, a poor ball out of defence by Khairuhin led to Rak bearing down on goal, before the latter unselfishly released Behe to finish with aplomb from close range.
The result meant the Warriors closed the gap between them and third-placed Home United to just four points, while Hougang continued to sit in fourth spot with 22 points from 16 matches.
Hougang United head coach K Balagumaran: “Delwinder’s injury did not change the game for us. Yusiskandar came on and did a good job. I wanted to go for the three points to go third in the table, so I took the risk to put in Iqbal (Hussain) and (Nur) Ridho late on.
“It was just a lack of concentration on our part that saw us conceding the goals. I cannot point fingers at these players. You’ve to be realistic; we’re one of the youngest teams in the league. If you give them time, they’ll be a different team. A top-five finish is still possible.”
Warriors FC head coach Razif Onn: “It took the team some time to think and be composed after going down. I was a bit upset with the way we conceded the first goal; their player was unchallenged and it was a free header.
“But we knew Hougang focus on their three attackers Fumiya, Kaplan and Stipe, so I told my central midfielders to drop deep and kill their threat – that worked for us. The players are slowly adapting and I hope this continues.”
Hougang United: Khairulhin Khalid (GK), Delwinder Singh (Yusiskandar Yusop 58’), M. Anumanthan, Jozef Kaplan (C), Fumiya Kogure, Stipe Plazibat, Nazrul Nazari, Raihan Rahman (Nur Ridho Jafri 78’), Faiz Salleh, Nurhilmi Jasni (Iqbal Hussain 68’), Wahyudi Wahid
Warriors FC: Yazid Yasin (GK), Syaqir Sulaiman (Poh Yi Feng 73’), Kento Fukuda (C), Madhu Mohana (Ismail Yunos 90’), Shaiful Esah, Nikola Rak, Hafiz Nor (Ignatius Ang 89’), Ridhuan Muhammad, Hafiz Osman, Jonathan Behe, Hafiz Sulaiman