Sherif El-Masri's brace helps Young Lions to victory, condemning Nenad Bacina's men to their sixth successive defeat in the league
The match was preceded by a curtain-raiser match between Hougang Sheng Hong Club and Hougang Community Club with probable PAP nominee for Hougang Single Member Constituency in the upcoming by-elections Mr Desmond Choo playing for the latter team in a collaborative effort between Hougang Community Club, also represented by former Singapore greats, and Hougang Sheng Hong Family Service Centre.
Also prior to the game, a one minute silence was observed as a mark of respect for Mr Lau Teng Chuan, one of Singapore’s former top sports administrators, who passed away on May 8.
The match began as scheduled and just within 5 minutes wing wizard Sherif El-Masri scored with a sweet first time volley from a corner clearance that fell just outside the edge of the penalty box.
Defender Syaqir Sulaiman sustained what seemed like a head injury and was stretchered off in the eleventh minute, forcing an early substitution in Hasree Zais.
The visitors piled on the pressure and in the 21st minute broke off in a counter led by Faris Ramli, Sherif El-Masri and Fazil Ayob but their shot was closed down by Hougang United custodian Ridzuan Hassan.
The highlight of the game came a minute later when match referee Jeevanathan failed to award the home side a free kick on the half-way line where Ante Barac seemed to have been illegally impeded. The referee played on and the ball fell to Faris Ramli who delivered a searching ball to the left flank picking out Sherif El-Masri. The winger calmly chested down and drilled the ball into the far corner off the post to send the visitors two goals to the good.
Hougang United head coach Nenad Bacina, as well as large sects of the spectators were left furious with the referee’s decision. A livid Bacina stormed down the touchline to confront the fourth official W Ravisanthiran as the atmosphere turned hostile in the stadium.
The home team were insipid for most of the half, unable to string together a decent number of passes and penetrate the opposition’s defence. Yet they managed to put the ball into the back of the net close to half time from a quickly taken free kick but the goal was disallowed.
Hougang United started the second half more positively and were threatening to claw a goal back. However they failed to manufacture a clear cut attempt at goal. At best, Jordan Webb unleashed a long shot that was punched away by the keeper late into the half.
As the game drew on, the Courts Young Lions were able to settle in and soon gained momentum of their own creating several chances, most notable of which was a free kick by the brilliant Sherif El-Masri which was saved by the fingertips of Ridzuan Hasan.
The Cheetah’s would be disappointed with their inability to seriously test their opposition. While the Courts Young Lions continue to recover from their early season woes by picking up valuable points.