Singapore Premier League • October 20, 2015
White Swans Held By Energetic Young Tigers
Written by: Shawn Lim
Albirex Niigata (S) fell further back in their challenge for the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title after being held to a 1-1 draw by Harimau Muda on Monday night.
Kento Nagasaki opened the scoring for the visitors in the seventh minute before Faizat Ghazali scored the equaliser for the hosts in the 67th minute.
The draw left the White Swans seven points adrift of league leaders Brunei DPMM and they will see this game as two points dropped after dominating large period of the game.
The Japanese side made a bright start, putting pressure on the hosts from the get-go and registered their first shot on target just four minutes into the game.
Nagasaki did brilliantly to break free down the left and hit the byline before playing a cross that was deflected to Rion Taki, but the latter was unable to convert from close range.
The White Swans broke the deadlock with their next attack when Taki did well to bring down a visionary over-the-top pass from Fumiya Kogure for Nagasaki in the seventh minute.
The unmarked 25-year-old then had all the time in the world to fire an unstoppable left-footed drive past Young Tigers custodian Farhan Abu Bakar and into the bottom corner.
However, Albirex’s intensity dropped after their breathless start and they allowed the Young Tigers to get back into the game as the first half wore on.
Captain Amirul Hisyam subsequently stung the palms of Albirex custodian Yosuke Nozawa with the hosts’ first shot on target from just outside the box in the 35th minute.
The White Swans emerged from the break re-focused as they searched another goal to kill the game off and could have doubled their lead just two minutes after the restart.
However, Taki’s fierce piledriver from 30-yards-out was brilliantly palmed away by Farhan.
The hosts had threatened little in the second period until Faizat pulled a goal back for the hosts against the run of play in the 67th minute, as he headed home Amirul‘s cross from close range.
The Young Tigers gradually got more of a foothold in the game as the White Swans started to falter, but were unable to craft anything of note to trouble their opponent’s defence.
There was a final chance for Harimau Muda to snatch all three points in stoppage time when substitute Syahrul Azwari dazzled his way to the edge of the 18-yard box, but the striker fired high and wide instead.
Harimau Muda: Farhan Abu Bakar (GK), Syawal Nordin, Asri Mardzuki, Annas Rahmat, Amirul Ikmal (Syahrul Azwari 65’), Ariff Farhan, Irfan Zakaria (Adam Nor 44’), Amirul Hisyam (C), Akhir Bahari, Kenny Pallraj (Kumaahran Sathasivam 80’), Faizat Ghazali
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK) (C), Mikiya Yamada, Kento Fujihara, Takahiro Saito, Itsuki Yamada, Hikaru Mizuno, Shun Inaba, Yusuke Mukai, Fumiya Kogure, Kento Nagasaki (Shotaro Ihata 69’), Rion Taki