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  • September 29, 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • Hougang Stadium, Singapore
  • Referee: P. Jeevanathan

Hougang 2-2 SAFFC: Resilient Warriors rescue a point at Hougang

Hougang 2-2 SAFFC: Resilient Warriors rescue a point at Hougang

Zeng Liwei

SAFFC had beaten Hougang 1-0 with goals in the final ten minutes of their two previous meetings, but this time the Cheetahs endured a late flurry of attacks to hold their visitors

SAFFC began the stronger side as they tried to force the result early on, with Aliff Shafaein and Tatsuro Inui always looking dangerous on the flanks.

The visitors almost took the lead in the 6th minute when Fazrul Nawaz drove the ball past a diving Fadhil Salim in the Hougang goal. But Noh Rahman's early through pass had caught the forward offside, and the goal was disallowed.

Fadhil shrugged off the early embarrassment to deny Fazrul again ten minutes later, grabbing the ball from the feet of the onrushing striker as he surged into the box.

The Cheetahs seemed content to strike on the counter, relying on the pace of Jordan Webb and Mamadou Diallo and the vision of Fazli Jaffar to create trouble.

Continued pressure by the Warriors finally paid off on 33 minutes when Mislav Karoglan bundled the ball into the net off a short corner as he took advantage of a lapse in concentration by the Hougang defenders.

The lead lasted only a minute though, as Hougang struck again with a characteristic raid down the left. Webb did all the work himself as he ran at the defence before smashing the ball home.

Neither side was able to make a real breakthrough before half-time, but one sensed more goals were in store, such was the intensity of the action on pitch.

SAFFC came out of the dressing rooms all guns blazing, and Inui played Fazrul free on the left just after the restart, but Hougang skipper Lau Meng Meng dispossessed him calmly before he could make the cross.

The resulting Hougang counter saw Diallo break free on the right, drawing the defenders away before crossing for Azhar Sairudin to head home in the 50th minute to give the home side the lead.

The Warriors then tried to pry Hougang open in the middle as Shimpei Sakurada slid the ball through to Karoglan on the hour mark, but the SAFFC hitman's effort trickled wide.

Fazrul came close again on 63 minutes as he got on the end of an Aliff cross to unleash a shot which Fadhil palmed onto the crossbar, although he had already been flagged offside.
Their equaliser would come from Inui on the left flank though, as the Japanese winger whipped a cross in for Sakurada to head home with aplomb in the 67th minute.

Hougang continued to absorb the pressure and would have had a late winner of their own, had SAFFC goalkeeper Shahril Jantan not seized Fazly Hasan's well-taken free kick at the near post.

The Warriors pushed once more for an injury-time winner, but Fadhil did superbly to deny first Ruzaini Zainal and then Noh Rahman from range off successive Inui corners.

The result means Hougang remain a point behind SAFFC but have now stretched their unbeaten run to nine matches, a remarkable feat for a side previously unfancied by critics.

SAFFC, on the other hand, will be looking for salvation in their upcoming Singapore Cup semi-final against Gombak United, which represents their only chance of silverware this season.