League Cup • July 15, 2014
Hotshot O’Donovan Guns Down Cheetahs
Written By: Kenneth Ho
Hougang United’s six-match unbeaten streak came to an end on Monday evening at Hougang Stadium as Brunei DPMM earned a 3-2 victory in their final Group D match in the 2014 StarHub League Cup.
Even though DPMM’s scored two own goals, their hotshot Roy O’Donovan was on fire as he struck thrice to ensure the Bruneians come out on top in this encounter..
Coming into this game with five victories in their last six, Hougang did look the part of a team on-form as they took the game to DPMM in the first half.
Hougang threatened first, with Fazli Jaffar hitting in a cross-shot from the left which flew wide of the far post in the fourth minute.
DPMM in turn replied with Adi Said finding himself behind Hougang’s backline, but as the defenders quickly closed in on him, the striker panicked and ballooned the ball over.
That was followed by more brave defending, as three defenders rushed to close down on O’Donovan in the danger area just as he was about to pull the trigger.
At the other end, Diego Gama managed to make DPMM custodian Wardun Yusof work as he met a Fairoz Hassan cross and managed to steer a powerful header towards goal. However
Wardun deserved credits for getting down quickly to stop the ball from crossing the line.
Hougang then had another big chance in the 20th minute when the aforementioned duo combined again.
This time the roles were reversed as Gama turned provider to release Fairoz down the right. The winger cut into the box and had a go from an acute angle but unfortunately his attempt only found the side netting.
The deadlock was finally broken, with Hougang taking a deserving lead via an own goal by Abdul Aziz Tamit. Unable to cut out Geison Moura’s cross, the defender instead turned the ball past his own goalkeeper to put his side a goal down.
Fairoz and Moura were given some half-chances thereafter to double Hougang’s advantage, but their efforts were tame and did not trouble Wardun as both sides went off for the break.
DPMM Steve Kean’s half-time talk must have worked wonders, as his side came out charging at the restart.
O’Donovan was more involved in the second half, and it began with him drawing a huge save from Hougang custodian Basil Chan.
In the 49th minute, the Irishmen latched onto Said’s cutback and provided Chan with his first real test of the night as the debutant had to sprint off his line and save at O’Donovan’s feet.
However, the Cheetahs’ man in goal was helpless to prevent DPMM from equalising in the 55th minute, when O’Donovan grabbed the first of his three goals by heading in from close range off Joe Gamble’s cross.
After the hour mark, Gama again came close when he muscled his way to the danger area but he snatched at his shot which resulted in it missing the target.
There was a big moment in the 74th minute, when Fazli should have tested Wardun. It all started with the winger running with the ball from the halfway line to DPMM’s box, before threading a ball down the left for Gama.
The latter then played in a return pass to Fazli, who was unmarked and right in front of goal.
But Fazli decided not to take the shot and allowed it to roll past him for his teammate, Shunsuke Nakatake.
Unfortunately, the Japanese was caught surprised by the decision and failed to react in time as the chance went begging.
That missed opportunity would haunt the Cheetahs two minutes later, as O’Donovan then rifled in a rasping drive from the edge of the box to give DPMM the lead for the first time in this game.
Hougang then ran into foul trouble, as Chan felled Rodrigo Tosi in the box to gift the visitors a penalty. O’Donovan duly stepped up and completed his hat-trick as he clinically dispatched the spot kick.
Hougang pulled one back six minutes from time when an inswinging cross by substitute Faiz Salleh found Moura in the box, and even though the latter’s initial shot was parried away by Wardun, the striker got to the rebound first to turn the ball home via a touch by Joe Gamble.
Hougang were unable to muster a comeback though, as DPMM took top spot in Group D, which leaves the Cheetahs with the tough encounter against Home United.