A confrontation broke out towards the end of the game after former Japan international Toda chose to play on when Hougang were expecting play to stopWarriors FC midfielder Kazuyuki Toda paused when he received the ball, glancing at his team-mate Erwan Gunawan who was slowly getting up from the pitch after going down in agony.
Unsure, the former Japanese international made a judgement call to break away with the ball as the referee indicated for the midfielder to play on.
It was a gesture that would lead to ugly scenes seconds later in the Warriors FC game against Hougang United on Wednesday evening, as players from both side clashed.
The Hougang backline had relaxed their defensive formation, expecting the Japanese to put the ball out of play so that the injured Erwan could be treated.
So Toda had a relatively easy charge to the byline within seconds as he took the Hougang defence by surprise, cutting back a cross for an unmarked Warriors striker Mislav Karoglan.
Fortunately for Hougang, Karoglan sportingly kicked the ball out of play instead of attempting a shot, after which Warriors FC coach Alex Weaver revealed Karoglan did as he was instructed.
“If you look at the laws of the game, the referee is the one who stops the game," explained Weaver after the game.
"I know there is sportsmanship and things like that but ultimately the referee is the one that stops the game if he feels the players are injured, and he didn’t stop the game.
“I was calling for the ball to be played out and Karo (Karoglan) knew that and he kicked it out when the ball came across.”
Weaver’s counterpart, Hougang caretaker coach Amin Nasir did not blame Toda for his actions as well.
“I know what Toda was thinking, he thought that if his player got up it would be play on, and our boys thought he wanted to kick the ball out,” Nasir said.
“But this kind of situation it happens. But again, I don’t blame Toda for it, he got his reason and things turned out well for us so it was okay.”
However, Cheetahs goalkeeper Fadhil Salim and defender Igor Cerina were not as easily appeased as their coach and started confronting Toda for his actions after Karoglan kicked the ball away.
As Toda was pushed to the ground, players from both sides started gathering and fingers were pointed while voices were raised. However, the referee quickly got the situation under control while experienced Hougang skipper Lau Meng Meng went to calm his team-mates down.
“It was a big concern but it was lucky the captain (Lau) managed to pull the players away,” Amin said of the situation.
Weaver has since defended Toda for his action and added he was disappointed with the reactions of some Hougang United players , having coached Hougang previously and knowing them personally.
“It should have gone out really because their player was down but Erwan was down as well and they didn’t kick the ball out so I am assuming that’s why Kazu (Toda) was a little bit confused and he carried on,” Weaver explained.
“But Kazu’s got a right to carry on [and] what nobody has a right to do is the way they treated Kazu when the ball went to cross.
“That’s bad from a couple players that I know [personally], I was quite surprised and disappointed in their reaction."
As the players calmed down and backed away, referee Farhad Mohd issued yellow cards to Fadhil, Cerina and Toda for sparking a near-brawl on the pitch.
However, an upset Weaver was incredulous that Toda received a caution as well, and told the press he did not understand why the former Japanese international received a yellow card.
“I don’t know what the officials have seen, but it was clear that he (Toda) was pushed to the ground and I don’t know why he got booked,” Weaver said, looking bemused.
“He hasn’t done anything so nobody could have seen him doing anything, the referees have got a tough job I understand that but that was wrong."
Standing firmly by his player, Weaver presented a determined figure to fight against the ruling and get the yellow card overturned.
“Kazu has told me he has done nothing, I have seen him do nothing,” Weaver insisted.
“I know how things go on the field but if Kazu tells me that he has done nothing I believe him 100%.
“So we will have a look at the video tomorrow and [decide] whether we are going to appeal that.
“From what I have seen, I haven’t seen anything that he has done, so I think he has been wrongfully carded.”