The Guinean striker's solitary goal saw the home side notch a second home win on the trot, leaving their opponents still looking for their first point of the seasonIn a game delayed by over 15 minutes due to the threat of lightning, Hougang United overcame a spirited Courts Young Lions 1-0 at Hougang Stadium on Tuesday night.
It was the Cheetahs’ third win in succession and their second home victory in a row, after defeating Home United here by the same scoreline last time out.
Without a point to date, the visitors began the game on a sodden pitch with a real sense of purpose, having the better of the possession and creating probably the greater number of chances as well.
But, as has happened so often this season, Aide Iskandar’s boys failed to finish off any of their promising first-half moves and they were nowhere near as effective in the second-half, or as much in control as they had been before the break.
Stanely Ng made his season’s first start and looked particularly useful paired with Iqbal Hussain up front and the attack-minded Fareez Farhan tucked in just behind, mostly out wide on the right.
Hougang had to improvise in defence with centre-back Hasree Zais suspended and Syaqir Sulaiman in doubt of being included in the squad due to late afternoon exams.
In came wide-man Jeremy Chiang to partner Shahir Hamzah, the latter not a regular starter and Chiang himself affected by a bout of flu.
For all that though, the two defenders held the line well against what was quite an onslaught at times from the Courts Young Lions.
Hougang goalkeeper Fadhil Salim was forced to race well off his line to head clear before Iqbal could chase through a long ball out of defence that had distinct possibilities.
That ninth-minute scare followed a desperate goal-line clearance by Sheik Abdul Hadi at the other end a minute earlier after Azhar Sairudin’s corner had been headed goal-wards by Thomas Beattie.
There should really have been a goal in the 12th minute when Sherif El-Masri got the ball over from the left only for the two converging strikers, Iqbal and Fareez, to fail to make any connection.
The winning goal came in the 56th minute following a corner swung over from the right by Fazli Jaffar.
Initially, a cross from the left by skipper Lau Meng Meng had been met with a brilliant header by Mamadou Diallo, only to see Syazwan Buhari leap high to his left to make a sensational save.
But all his work came to naught when the resultant corner saw the ball headed away by the defence straight to Diallo, who was standing 15 yards out. The Guinean striker was able to get in a looping header that arrowed straight into the top-right corner of the net, giving the goalkeeper no chance and condemning the visitors to yet another point-less outing.