Warriors FC kept up the pressure on Brunei DPMM as they closed the gap to one point at the top of the S.League table, following a hard-fought 4-2 victory over Harimau Muda on Thursday.
Centre-back Marin Vidosevic gave the uniformed giants an early lead on four minutes at the Pasir Gudang Stadium, reacting well to Miroslav Pejic's knockdown from Shi Jiayi's free-kick to volley past the goalkeeper.
But the hosts struck back strongly and went on to take the lead. First, Naim Zakaria unleashed a grounder from range that deflected off Vidosevic and flew past a wrong-footed Hassan Sunny in the Warriors goal in the 17th minute. Ten minutes later, top-scorer Ramzi Sufian bagged his fifth goal in as many games as he ran on to Shahrul Igwan's pass before deftly lobbing Hassan.
The lead lasted six minutes, however. A brilliant through ball from Dharham Aziz found Nicolas Velez, who controlled the ball superbly before blasting it home to level the scores. Five minutes before the break, the visitors went ahead when Pejic fired home from the spot after Vidosevic was tripped.
Velez extended the lead just before the break when he pounced on an error at the back from Syawal Nordin, who fluffed his clearance from Hassan's booming kick. The Argentinian striker latched on to the ball and produced a couple of stepovers to round custodian Ramdhan Hamid before slotting in an easy finish for 4-2.
Warriors coach Alex Weaver was confident that his charges were always in control of the game despite the Young Tigers taking the lead midway through the half.
"That put us in a difficult position but we were in control of things," he told s.league.com. "We knew what we were capable of and it was a matter of maintaining focus and I was confident we would get back in the game."
His Harimau Muda counterpart, Razip Ismail, was happy enough with his young boys' improved defensive display in the second half, but lamented their error-strewn performance in the first.
"The three goals we let in were [all due to] our own mistakes, except for the penalty, which I don’t think it was a penalty," he pointed out. "When we make a lot of mistakes, it is good for the opponents. We gave room to them and with the mistakes, it looked bad for us.”
The Warriors have 30 points after the victory, one behind DPMM, who will take on Home United in a big clash on Friday night at the Hassanal Bolkiah.