Home United 1 (Frederic Mendy 80’)
Hougang United 1 (Mamadou Diallo 85’)
After the 7-3 win over Geylang in midweek, confidence in the Protectors’ dressing room was high. It was the same for Hougang United, winning Balestier Khalsa 3-0. However, Home United failed to break down a spirited Hougang side in a scrappy match played last night at the Bishan Stadium.
The first chance of the match fell to Hougang United in the 2nd minute, when a 25 yard shot by Ante Barac was saved by a diving Nazri Sabri. Two minutes later, Basit Hamid did well to cut into the box, feinting over Nor Azli Yusoff to go on a one-on-one with Nazri. His shot however, went flying over the bar.
In the 7th minute, a corner by Shi Jiayi was palmed away by Fadhil Salim in the box. His rebound then fell to Jeremy Chiang whose cross met Frederic Mendy’s head, but it went wide.
Five minutes later, a corner kick by Ante Barac was well headed at goal by Jordan Webb but Nazri Sabri caught it well though to keep the scores level.
In the 39th minute, a free kick by Azhar Sairudin swerved towards goal and went just past the crossbar. Two minutes later, Ihata had probably the best chance in the first half for Home, when he went on a blistering 35 yard run before shooting into the side netting outside the box.
The two teams went into the break on level terms, with Hougang United being the better team in the first half.
The second half opened with both sides eagerly contesting the ball and the first chance in the second half fell for Home when a corner by Shi Jiayi in the 54th minute was headed at goal by Shotaro Ihata. However, his header was disappointing as it went flying over the crossbar.
Four minutes later, Mamadou Diallo had a great opportunity as he went clear of the Home defenders and shot just outside the box. It deflected off Sofiyan Abdul Hamid and went out for a corner. The resulting corner was fruitless as it fell to Home United who went forward with the ball.
Hougang then had another free kick in the 62nd minute, but Ante Barac’s swerving shot at goal was well caught by Nazri Sabri.
Just a minute later, a cross by Masrezwan Masturi found Frederic Mendy in the box, who headed just wide past a diving Fadhil Salim.
In the 68th minute, Basit Hamid scored from close range but linesman Jeffrey Goh waved his flag for offside. That was a dubious decision from the linesman as Basit Hamid had clearly came from behind Diallo, who was the one offside instead.
Five minutes later, a Masrezwan cross found Mendy in the box, who headed at goal. The effort was well caught again by Fadhil Salim - any slower and it would have gone in.
In the 78th minute, a cross Fazli Jaffar found Jordan Webb who headed straight at goal. It almost went in, but Nazri Sabri did well to palm the ball away and subsequently catch it.
The first goal of the night came just two minutes later in the 80th minute - Frederic Mendy with a nice shot to his left to leave Fadhil stranded. A nice pass by Ihata and a nice shot by Mendy to leave the Home fans jumping for joy.
Then came the somewhat instant reply by Hougang United five minutes later – Mamadou Diallo cutting into the box from the left before unleashing a powerful shot into the bottom right of the goal. A heroic effort by Diallo to keep his team in the running for the win.
That was to be the final effort of the match as the full time whistle was blown, ending the match at one goal apiece.
Our performance has not been stable
At the post match conference last night, the team’s performance was raised, and coach Lee Lim Saeng said, “The performance we have shown to you now is not stable, go up and down. We have been trying to enhance the defensive backline.”
When asked about why Shotaro Ihata started despite his recent displays, he replied, “He couldn’t score in 8 consecutive matches and couldn’t show the performance he could. But in the previous game (against Geylang), he showed his passion, concentrated on the game and worked hard. Even though he didn’t score today, it was good from him as he worked hard.”
Then came the question about Nazri Sabri’s performance and coach Lee seemed a little agitated, replying, “We conceded 12 goals in 5 matches including tonight. Its serious. You do not know the problem we have at the moment. As head coach, I will take every responsibility.”
When asked about a possible hairdryer treatment in the dressing room at half time, coach Lee gave a humorous reply, saying, “Sometimes I shout on the pitch at players but I am always trying to talk to every individual. Players understand why I shout, sometimes they are sleeping! (So I shout at them) and they come back!”
We cannot be greedy
His counterpart, Hougang coach Nenad Bacina, looked satisfied with the result. When asked about the draw, he replied, “Of course we have to be satisfied, we cannot be greedy. Home is strong and we know they are dangerous on the flank, so we tried to squeeze them out. Sadly in the first half Vida got injured but Syaqir (Sulaiman) was a good replacement.”
When asked about the goal that was ruled out, he replied, “The goal its hard to see from my side, it’s the referee’s decision.” He added, “We are confident and are looking forward to the League Cup.”
Replying to a question on Diallo’s performance, he strained that it was a team effort, saying, “Diallo and other players are working as a team. We are a team. When we win, we win as a team and when we lose, we lose as one.”
One reporter then asked about Stanislav Vidakovic’s injury, he replied, “ Vida landed awkwardly and twisted his knee. He should be okay in seven days or so. As a player (once), I know how its like to have a knee injury. I realized something was serious when I saw him fell. Also, he couldn’t speak English so I needed a translator!”
When asked to give one word for the Hougang HOOLS, he thought for a while before asking for a translator. He finally made his mind up and gave this word- Marvelous.
Home United will next play Courts Young Lions in the League Cup on the 26th, with Hougang United also playing Courts Young Lions in the next match on the 29th, also a League Cup matchup.
Home United FC: Nazri Sabri (GK), Jeremy Chiang, Kenji Arai, Sofiyan Abdul Hamid, Nor Azli Yusoff, Shi Jia Yi (C), Firdaus Idros (Indra Sahdan Daud 60’), Masrezwan Masturi, Qiu Li, Shotaro Ihata, Frederic Mendy Unused substitutes: Lionel Lewis (GK), Kairuldin Ishak, Rosman Sulaiman, Rhysh Roshan Rai
Hougang United FC: Fadhil Salim (GK, C), Fazly Hasan, Hasree Zais, Stanislav Vidakovic (Syaqir Sulaiman 34’), Faizal Amir, Ante Barac, Azhar Sairudin, Fazli Jaffar (Nurhilmi Jasni 90+1’), Jordan Webb, Mamadou Diallo, Basit Hamid (Sobrie Mazelan 69’) Unused substitutes: Ridzuan Hasan, Ridhwan Osman, Ignatius Ang
Yellow Cards: Jeremy Chiang(Home) Faizal Amir, Mamadou Diallo, Basit Hamid, Jordan Webb, Fazli Jaffar (Hougang)
Red Cards: None
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