Singapore Premier League • August 21, 2014

Velez Hat-Trick Keeps Warriors on Title Pursuit


Written by: Khalis Rifhan

Nicholas Velez grabbed a hat-trick as he helped Warriors FC to a 4-1 win over Courts Young Lions on Wednesday evening at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium and continue their pursuit of the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title.

It was the visitors that defied the script as they took an early lead courtesy of Jordan Webb in the fifth minute. Velez then led the comeback for the hosts with a hat-trick in the second half while Hafiz Rahim struck the back of the net minutes before the half-time interval.

Missing the suspended Marin Vidosevic, Warriors’ backline were handed a tough time by Young Lions attacking trio, Sahil Suhaimi, Webb and Sherif El-Masri in the opening stages.

Sahil got onto the end of El-Masri’s squared ball to the middle of the box before laying it off for Webb who made no mistake and sent Hassan Sunny grasping for the air for Young Lions’ first and only goal of the match.

Stunned by that goal, Alex Weaver’s charges regrouped and surged forward for the equalising goal. Livewire Suria Prakash cut a daunting figure for the opponents down the left flank while Velez continued to terrorise the Young Lions defence with his nifty footwork.

It did not take long before it was back to square one. Receiving a through ball from right-back Zulfadli Zainal, Suria blitzed past the defence before threading it to Velez at the edge of the box.

With a sea of red in front of him, Velez managed to zoom a perfect grounder to level the score to 1-1 in the 16th minute.

Despite the three-goal margin at the end of the match, it was not a true reflection of Young Lions’ ability and performance in the match. They continued to mount on the pressure but found Hassan Sunny on top of his game.

El-Masri was denied from the set-piece while Webb saw his effort thwarted by the Singapore international midway through the first-half. Sahil on the other hand showed glimpses of his sparkles as he went on a solo run but was denied a goal by the upright.

Those misses prove costly for the developmental side as the more experienced Warriors took the lead in the 24th minute. Velez went on his trademark diagonal run from the left before arrowing in a low ball past the hapless Young Lions custodian Syazwan Buhari.

Young Lions went further behind four minutes before the interval as Hafiz Rahim smacked the ball into an empty net after Velez had done all the hardwork dribbling past the defence and rounding the goalkeeper.

Despite trailing by two goals, Young Lions did not once let their heads down and instead continued to cause problems for their opponents in the second half. But it was all over for Aide’s boys in the 70th minute when Warriors snatch their fourth goal of the night.

A beautiful play between Velez and Suria saw the former twinkled past Young Lions’ captain Al-Qaasimy and company. Suria then took over possession in the box before sending it back to Velez who blasted it home from close range for his 17th goal of the campaign.

With the win Warriors leapfrogged both Home United and Albirex Niigata (S) to third place with 37 points. Both Home and Albirex will have the opportunity to climb the league table as they have a game in hand.