Tampines Rovers were happy to collect the three points before they start a 20-day break having been eliminated from the RHB Singapore Cup competition, which resumes next week.
It was with some relief that winning coach, Tay Peng Kee, congratulated his players at the end of a spirited contest.
Tampines had to bring in second-choice keeper, Ridhuan Barudin, as their new Portuguese goalkeeper, Andre Martins, had fractured an arm just days before the match.
Martins will be out for up to six weeks, but the Stags don’t play again until August 6 when they meet Courts Young Lions in a deferred game at Jalan Besar Stadium.
“We had only Ridhuan we could use tonight and he had to play with a sprained finger, he had no choice,” said the coach.
“He showed a lot of character this evening and I know I can count on him while Andre is out of action.
“Amri (Khairul Amri) has been struggling with a hamstring problem, but when I sent him on I knew I could count on him too, as I always had faith in Amri to deliver."
It was no easy victory for the Stags, who needed all of their self-belief and industry to thwart a hard-working and enterprising Hougang United, whose morale had been low after a number of recent narrow losses.
Johana Johari, the Hougang coach, praised his players but showed some concern for some of the decisions made by the match officials on this occasion.
“The inconsistency of the referee sapped my players’ confidence,” he asserted.
"I thought the last goal they scored tonight was offside and there were a lot of other decisions I was not happy with at all.
“All the hardwork we are putting in is just not being rewarded at the moment."
“I don’t think the boys played badly at all tonight. We had three players out suspended, but I ask you, did you notice any difference (in our effectiveness)?” he challenged the assembled media.
“I have to compliment my players for responding in the second-half after falling behind just before half-time.
“We had to try and deny them as much of the ball in the midfield as we could. After that, I think Tampines were playing ‘tennis’ and we were rather unlucky.
“When Woodlands won here 1-0 they then went and won their next three games and I’m sure if we had won that game we could have done exactly the same.
“We have to prepare now for our (RHB Singapore) Cup games, starting on Monday, and forget about this result tonight."
Tampines coach Tay Peng Kee assessed his own team’s performance by praising his players and mentioning that his two outfield Portuguese players, Vitor Ladeiras and Diogo Caramelo are ‘not quite there yet’.
“Both of them will take some time to settle in and over the next 20 days we can work on things with them, before we play another game," he explained.
Tay said that starting the game with Ladeiras and replacing him with Caramelo after 77 minutes was not planned before the game.
“We don’t do that (give two players half a game each), the change was made purely for tactical reasons,” he explained.