Singapore Premier League • April 17, 2014
Unstoppable Velez Demolishes White Swans With Impressive Showing
Written by: Khalis Rifhan
Warriors Football Club continued their impressive start to the 2014 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League campaign as they sailed to a 4-0 victory over Albirex Niigata (S) at Jurong East Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Nicholas Velez who only had a goal to his name prior to the match, struck four times against the White Swans, with three of the goals assisted by the club top scorer Miroslav Pejic.
The visitors nearly got off to a disastrous start when Hassan Sunny’s poor clearance fell fortuitously onto Kazuki Sakamoto at the edge of the box but the Singapore international goalkeeper atoned for his mistake as he stretched his body to the far post and palmed away the latter’s effort in the 11th minute.
Shaking off the early scares, Alex Weaver’s charges dominated proceedings soon after and scored the opening goal.
Velez latched onto Pejic’s neat through ball in the penalty box and the Argentine coolly slid the ball beyond Albirex custodian Kenjiro Ogino to score his second goal of the campaign.
Despite going a goal down, Tatsuyuki Okuyama’s charges remained loyal to their footballing philosophy and persisted with a build up play centred around their midfielders, Koki Akasaka and Kosuke Matsuda.
It was a lively battle in the middle of the park between the Albirex duo and Warriors Thomas Beattie and Kevin McCann as both side were determined to collect maximum points and cement their spot at the top half of the league table.
But it was not smooth sailing for Albirex as their opponents were keeping a tight lid at the back.
Without a way past Warriors captain Daniel Bennett and Marin Vidosevic, the hosts were forced to take pot-shots at goal from a distance on several occasions.
Trailing by a goal, Okuyama brought on Kento Nagasaki for Taiyo Nishida at the start of the second half. Nagasaki took Kazuya Okazaki’s spot at right midfield while the latter moved up to partner Kazuki Sakamoto in attack.
But the tactical move would bear no fruit for the White Swans as Warriors extended their lead 11 minutes after the interval.
Pejic once again was the provider as he laid off the ball for Velez at the edge of the box and striker scored his second goal of the match with a thunderous bullet to the top right hand corner.
With a commanding two goal lead, Warriors coach Alex Weaver made a slew of changes as he brought on Zulfadhli Emran and Dharham Aziz.
Dharham almost made an instant impact as he zipped past his markers in the final third but could only shoot tamely at Ogino.
Needing two goals to at least nick a point from the match, Albirex threw numbers forward but found Hassan in fine form as he thwarted any threats that came his way.
In their eagerness to pull a goal back, Albirex left their backline exposed and were punished with two more goals from Velez.
The Warriors went on a swift counter attack on both occasions and Velez grabbed his hat-trick in the 88th minute with a cool finish to match his form. He then smashed his fourth goal during injury time after Pejic unselfishly squared the ball to Velez in the six yards box.