Gombak United 1 Julien Durand 7’
Hougang United 2 Jordan Webb 47’, Ante Barac 51’
An early goal from Julien Durand was not enough for Gombak United as they fell to a 1-2 home defeat against visitors Hougang United in the first leg of the RHB Singapore Cup Quarter Final last night.
In the absence of head coach K Balagumaran who is currently away for his AFC Pro License coaching course, assistant Stephen Ng took his place in the dugout. Other than Balagumaran, Gombak were also missing both Fareez Farhan and Samuel Benjamin to Under-22 call-ups.
For Hougang’s Nenad Bacina, he had almost a full squad to choose from but had to contend with the absence of Prime League duo Farhan Rahmat and Ignatius Ang who joined both Fareez and Samuel in the Singapore Under-22 squad currently in Indonesia for the AFC U22 qualifiers.
And it was Ng’s Gombak who got their noses in front after just seven minutes on the clock.
Mustaqim Manzur’s accurate corner was delivered into the penalty area and Durand rose the highest to plant an unstoppable header past Hougang’s Ridzuan Hasan from roughly six yards out.
The home side though had a chance to open the scoring earlier, in the 4th minute when Hafiz Rahim’s acrobatic effort missed Ridzuan’s goal by inches after Durand had flicked Ismail Yunos’ dangerous long throw into the area.
The home side continued to threaten and could have made it two in the 14th minute but skipper Obadin Aikhena headed narrowly wide at the far post from K Vikraman’s corner.
The first half petered out slowly after that opportunity as Gombak took a narrow one-goal lead into the break. It appeared that Bacina’s half-time team talk worked as winger Jordan Webb equalised for the Cheetahs immediately after the restart before Ante Barac scored the winner in the 51st minute, his first competitive goal this season.
It was similar to the opening goal from Gombak, with Webb connecting well with Ante Barac’s corner to thump home a header from close range in the 47th minute. Barac then made it 2-1 in the 51st minute after his powerful left-footed strike on goal took a slight deflection off Obadin Aikhena which left Zaiful wrong-footed.
Vikraman then came close on 66 minutes with his free-kick which looked set to curl into Ridzuan’s bottom corner but the alert Hougang custodian managed to get down low to get the slightest of touches to turn it around for a corner.
Gombak substitute Jung Hee Bong had the ball in the net in the 77th minute but was correctly ruled out by the assistant’s flag as time eventually ran out for the Bulls.
They will look to overturn a one-goal deficit when they visit Hougang Stadium this Saturday. With away goals not counted in this competition, a 1-0 scoreline would mean that extra time will follow. Hence, Gombak would be looking for nothing less than a win from that encounter.
For Hougang, they will be banking on home advantage to help them guarantee a spot in the semis where either SAFFC or Home awaits them. In fact, a draw would suffice for Bacina’s men after last night’s result, with a victory certainly a bonus.
Gombak United: Zaiful Nizam (GK), Nurullah Hussein, Obadin Aikhena (C), Walid Lounis, Ismail Yunos; Adrian Dhanaraj, Chris Anderson (Iqbal Hussain 87’), Mustaqim Manzur (Jung Hee Bong 63’), K Vikraman; Julien Durand, Hafiz Rahim (Fairoz Hasan 74’)
Unused subs: Farouq Farkhan, Fuad Jufri, Amin Rossady, R. Arvindran
Hougang United: Ridzuan Hasan (GK); Syaqir Sulaiman, Lau Meng Meng (C), Stanislav Vidakovic, Fazly Hasan, Faizal Amir (Basit Hamid 70’); Ante Barac, Azhar Sairudin (Hasree Zais 89’), Fazli Jaffar (Sobrie Mazelan 82’); Jordan Webb, Mamadou Diallo
Unused subs: Ridhwan Osman, Fadhil Salim
Yellow card(s): Adrian Dhanaraj, Fairoz Hasan (Gombak); Basit Hamid, Lau Meng Meng, Jordan Webb (Hougang)
You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JforJiaHui, and reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org