News • August 18, 2016
Kogure’s Injury-Time Winner Dents Stags’ Title Hopes
Written by: Koh Yizhe
Second-placed Tampines Rovers’ hopes of winning the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League were dealt with a huge blow after they were defeated 2-1 by Hougang United at the Jurong West Stadium on Wednesday night.
The match look set to end in a stalemate after Jordan Webb’s header just before half time had cancelled out Stipe Plazibat’s opener, but Fumiya Kogure scored the winner deep into injury time to help the Cheetahs collect all three points.
The result leaves the Stags trailing league leaders Albirex Niigata (S) by one point and the White Swans can potentially extend it to four points should they take all three points against Balestier Khalsa on Friday.
The game started off tightly as both teams took their time to settle into the match. Hougang’s M.Anumanthan and Tampines’ Hafiz Abu Sujad both had shots from range that whizzed past their opponent’s post.
It was the visitors who broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute when Jozef Kaplan got past his man easily and sent a peach of a low cross for an unmarked Plazibat. The 27-year-old striker had enough time to take a touch before calmly slotting the ball home to give his side the lead.
Tampines looked for an immediate response, but Yasir Hanapi could only manage a free kick that went well wide before his shot from open play found the grateful palms of Hougang goalkeeper Ridhuan Barudin.
Fazrul Nawaz also came close, but saw his header off a Webb cross flew narrowly wide of the mark as the interval beckoned.
Just as it seemed like the home side would head into the break trailing, Hafiz Sujad whipped in a delicious free-kick for Webb to direct it past Ridhuan with what turned out to be the last touch of the half and restore parity for the hosts.
The second-half saw the Cheetahs try to edge ahead once again. In the 62nd minute, Hougang had a brilliant chance to take the lead but Iqbal Hussain’s deflected shot, off a Plazibat cross, found the upright instead of the back of the net.
A draw would not have done much for the Stags and they certainly tried to go for all three points.
They had both sets of fans at the edge of their seats when Ridhuan fumbled a couple of cross, but for the most part, they were unable to really threaten Hougang’s goal. The away side’s backline held firm and cleared anything that was thrown at them.
Hougang then stole all three points right at the death when Iqbal made up for his earlier miss by playing Kogure through on goal and the Japanese finished coolly, sending the Hougang bench into frenzied celebrations.
Tampines thought they had equalised when they put the ball into the back of the net in the dying moments, but Webb’s effort was ruled out for offside as the Cheetahs hung on for victory.
Tampines Rovers coach Akbar Nawas: “If we don’t take our chances, this kind of thing is bound to happen. We were riding on our luck the last couple of games and I think it is good to flush out, look for what is going wrong and get ready for the next game.
“At 1-1, I made the decision to go for all three points because a point makes no difference to us. Result wise, I take responsibility but performance wise, the players will have to take responsibility. Credit to Hougang though, they played hard, they played well.”
Hougang United coach K.Balagumaran: “Credit goes to the boys because we did not want to get carried away from our previous win. I told them they need to have only one focus if we want to finish high up the table.
“We were up against a really strong team and the boys did well. We were organized and I wanted them to keep going instead of going for a point towards the end of the match. I was out of the world when the ball went in.”
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Jufri Taha, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Yasir Hanapi, Fazrul Nawaz (Sufian Anuar 79’), Jordan Webb, Izzdin Shafiq, Afiq Yunos, Hazfiz Abu Sujad, Irwan Shah (Shakir Hamzah 45’), Billy Mehmet
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Delwinder Singh, M.Anumanthan, Jozef Kaplan (C), Fumiya Kogure, Stipe Plazibat, Nazrul Nazari, Iqbal Hussain, Huzaifah Aziz, Raihan Rahman, Afiq Noor (Nurhilmi Jasni 88’)