Singapore Premier League • April 25, 2014
Velez Double Propels Warriors to the Summit
Written by: Khalis Rifhan
Warriors Football Club continued their fine form in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League as they saw off a plucky Courts Young Lions side 3-2 at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday evening.
The visitors gave Young Lions no chance of a breather as they bombarded the Young Lions from the get go. Nicholas Velez scored a goal in each half while Marin Vidosevic netted the team’s third to earn maximum points for Alex Weaver’s side.
Miroslav Pejic may not have been on the score-sheet but played a crucial role in the lead up to all of the Warriors’ goal.
Velez latched onto Pejic’s floated ball in the penalty box and the Argentine duly tucked the ball between Young Lions custodian Syazwan Buhari’s legs in the 31st minute.
Pejic once again turned provider as he unselfishly squared the ball to the danger area for a simple tap-in by Velez who scored his seventh goal of the season in the 61st minute.
The match was set and done five minutes later as Marin Vidosevic rose the highest and nodded the ball to the top corner from Pejic’s corner kick.
In the absence of the suspended Shi Jiayi, Weaver deployed versatile player Irwan Shah on the right flank and kept faith with the attacking duo of Pejic and Velez.
Velez, who blitzed four past Albirex Niigata (S) a week ago, could have opened his scoring much earlier in the match but was denied by Syazwan who also thwarted Pejic’s thunderous strike midway through the first half.
In the ninth minute, Velez skipped past his marker, but his ground shot was palmed away by Syazwan. A minute later Syazwan was called to action again as he denied Velez from close range.
It was not one-way traffic though as the Young Lions had several opportunities to score but were let down by poor finishing.
Young Lions’ coach Aide Iskandar kept faith with Sahil Suhaimi as the target-man with Stanley Ng cementing his place in the starting eleven following his impressive showing against Harimau Muda.
The golden opportunity for the hosts arrived when Sahil broke on the counter and took on the Warriors’ defenders Zulfadli Zainal and Jeremy Chiang. The Young Lions’ striker unfortunately could only place his shot wide of the goal.
Sahil had another opportunity to put his side in the lead as he raced down the byline but his shot agonisingly hit the side netting in the 20th minute.
Seven minutes before the half-time interval, Jordan Webb cleverly sneaked in between Warriors’ defence but his weak shot did not pose a problem for Hassan.
The hosts came out of the dressing room the way they ended the first half, bearing down on Warriors’ throat.
Shamil Shariff shook off his marker down the byline before squaring it off to El-Masri who was lurking in the six yard box. But Hassan pulled off yet another stupendous save as he palmed El-Masri thunderous volley away from point blank.
Trailing by three goals, Aide brought on Suhaimi, Muhaymin Salim and Iqbal Hussain to freshen up their attack.
The tactical switch did bear fruit for Young Lions as Muhaimin pulled a goal back for the team, connecting to an Al-Qaasimy low ball to the six yard box and smashing it beyond the hapless Warriors’ custodian Hassan Sunny in the 76th minutes.
Sahil Suhaimi struck a second for the hosts deep into injury time from a set-piece but it was too little too late as there was not enough time left for a comeback.
With the result, Warriors moved to the top of the league table on 20 points, ahead of Tampines Rovers and Brunei DPMM who have a game in hand.