A heartbreaking loss for Woodlands Wellington who had been excellent throughout the match containing Albirex Niigata.
In a clash of the table-toppers, this season’s hot favourites Albirex Niigata needed a goal by substitute Yasuhiro Yamakoshi in the dying minutes to get all three points against surprise package Woodlands Wellington at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Yamakoshi who also came on as a substitute two weeks ago and scored a brace against Tanjong Pagar United did it again on Thursday night. A defensive blunder between Fabien Lewis and Woodlands custodian Ahmaddulhaq Che Omar resulted in a clear-cut chance for the forward and he didn’t disappoint by coolly slotting into the net.
In the first-half, Woodlands' tactic of sitting back deep in the midfield whenever Albirex had the ball paid off and the defensive duo of Lewis and captain Daniel Hammond were also superb, successfully nullifying the threats of Albirex’s attacking trio, Toshikazu Soya, Sho Kamimura and Musashi Okuyama, resulting in few clear-cut chances.
In the second-half, Woodlands got more aggressive and their top scorer Moon Soon Ho nearly grabbed a goal when he was put through due to a poor clearance by Albirex in the 57th minute but defender Kunihiro Yamashita was there to deflect it out for a corner.
Minutes later, Woodlands forward Hussein Akil played a one-two with team-mate Guntur Djafril on the edge of the box, but his low shot was well parried by Albirex’s goalkeeper Takuma Ito.
Albirex’s midfielder Atsushi Shimono caught Che Omar off-guard and sent in an adventurous chip from 35-yards, but it was just over by a few inches.
Woodlands' best chance to take the lead came 10 minutes later when Moon, mirroring Shimono's earlier effort, nearly scored with an audacious shot from 35-yards out but Ito reacted brilliantly to tip it over at full stretch.
With the game then looking to head into a deserved draw, super-sub Yamakoshi struck deep into injury-time to crush the hopes of the Woodlands players and send Albirex supporters into delirium.