Singapore Premier League • August 23, 2014
Velez Rescues Late Point for Warriors
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
After scoring a hat-trick against the Courts Young Lions just four days ago, Nicholas Velez came to the rescue for Warriors FC again as he struck at the death to salvage a point for his side in a 2-2 draw with Home United in the uniformed derby at Bishan Stadium on Sunday evening.
The visitors had taken the lead through an early Hafiz Rahim goal but Home responded and went in front via Fazli Ayob and Fazrul Nawaz in the space of three second-half minutes before Velez’s late equaliser.
Knowing that three points would have taken them to the top of the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League standings, the Warriors got off to a flying start in the match as they took the lead inside four minutes.
After some good work down the right, Miroslav Pejic then slipped Hafiz through and the 30-year-old midfielder unleashed a blistering strike past Shahril Jantan and into the bottom corner.
Home rallied after falling behind and they nearly pulled level on several occasions thereafter, but were either denied by the heroics of Warriors custodian Hassan Sunny or poor decision-making in the final third.
In the 14th minute, Hassan spilled a corner from Lee Kwan Woo but he made amends by saving from Fazrul’s follow-up header.
Kwon Dakyung then came close again three minutes later when he connected with Lee Kwan Woo’s corner and it took the combined effort of Hassan and Zulfadli Zainal to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
At the other end meanwhile, Velez saw his attempt from a tight angle being pushed away by Shahril at his near post on 20 minutes before Fazrul was once again denied by Hassan moments later.
Hassan was tested for the last time in the first-half in the 37th minute as he went down low to parry Kwon’s powerful header with the Warriors taking a slender one-goal lead into the break.
The match came to life after the restart and it did not take long for the Protectors to equalise as they did in the 48th minute under fortuitous circumstances.
Bruno Castanheira’s shot came off the foot of Fazrul and fell into the path of an unmarked Fazli and he slotted past an onrushing Hassan to level matters.
Home then found themselves ahead for the first time in the match just three minutes later, as Fazrul punished a static Warriors defence to head Sirina Camara’s corner home from close range.
Alex Weaver’s side trailed and they tried to muster a reply by surging forward in numbers.
Ismail Yunos’ header was almost diverted by Castanheira into his own net before Hafiz flashed one across the face of goal in the 58th minute.
Pejic then connected with Irwan Shah’s cross but his header lacked the power as Shahril saved easily while Velez curled one over thereafter.
Fazli could have sealed victory for Home and grabbed his brace sixteen minutes from time but his grounder unfortunately shaved the post before going out of play.
They were made to pay for that miss as Velez scored with virtually the last kick of the game when he slid home defender Marin Vidosevic’s low cross past Shahril to help his side earn a share of the spoils.
This result however meant both Home and Warriors missed the chance to go level on points with leaders Brunei DPMM at the summit as they are now tied with Tampines Rovers on 38 points, two behind the Wasps.