The defender headed in the only goal of the game towards the end of the first half to give new coach Alex Weaver a winning start in his first S.League matchHougang United got their 2013 S.League season off to a winning start on Wednesday night as they edged the Courts Young Lions 1-0 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
A 1586-strong crowd waited patiently as the game was delayed by almost two hours due to a lightning alert, with both sides displaying fluency in midfield but struggling in the attacking third in the opening stages.
New Hougang signing Robert Eziakor shot straight at Young Lions custodian Rudy Khairullah in the 6th minute, before Hougang goalkeeper Fadhil Salim then fielded a shot from Shamil Sharif in similar fashion at the other end.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 41st minute, when an unmarked Syaqir Sulaiman headed in a corner from Mamadou Diallo to put the Cheetahs ahead.
The home side almost pulled one back a mere minute later, but Sahil Suhaimi’s shot from outside the box let him down after a neat exchange of passes with Shamil Sharif.
Hougang began the second half brightly as skipper Lau Meng Meng was brought down outside the box, although the subsequent rehearsed set-piece did not threaten the goal.
The Cheetahs then had another brilliant chance to extend their lead when Jeremy Chiang found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper and chose to square the ball to Sobrie Mazlan, who shot straight at a well-positioned defender.
Both teams had their fair share of possession, but the Young Lions displayed poor decision-making on the ball at times. One such instance was Sahil’s insistence on using his preferred right foot in the penalty box, which allowed the Hougang defenders to close him down every time.
Striker Liam Shotton, older brother of Stoke City defender Ryan Shotton, came into the fray in the 74th minute for his S.League debut, but there were to be no further goals.
Diallo’s freekick was brilliantly parried away by Rudy in the last meaningful action of the game, as new Hougang coach Alex Weaver celebrated his first league victory.