Tanjong Pagar 1 (Hafiz Osman 8’)
Courts Young Lions 2 (Faritz Hameed 54, Benjamin Lee 55’)
Photo courtesy of Stanley Wong
Courts Young Lions recorded a comeback 2-1 win against Tanjong Pagar United at the Queenstown Stadium last night to book their place in the Starhub League Cup Plate Final where they will meet Balestier Khalsa this Friday.
The Young Lions started brightly and in the 7th minute, Fazli Ayob released Hafiz Sujad on the left for a cross into the box and at the end of it was Jonathan Toto who could only head straight at Shamsudin Hashim who was given the nod ahead of regular Fajar Sarib in goal for Tanjong Pagar. But it was the home side who took the lead a minute later on the other end through Hafiz Osman.
A Carlos Delgado corner was headed into the path of an unmarked Hafiz and the former SAFFC defender was on hand to tap the ball home from close range to make it 1-0 to the hosts. Asraf Rashid then almost made it two for Tanjong Pagar but could only send a harmless shot wide after a good run down the left minutes later. The same man, Asraf would then fire just over a cross-shot in the 21st minute.
Asraf was a constant threat on the left and Courts Young Lions were fortunate not to have conceded their second after the winger found his way into the penalty area, only to see his cutback intercepted by the alert Sirina Camara.
Despite the slight domination Tanjong Pagar had over their opponents, the Under-23 side did carve out a decent chance of their own in the 24th minute as Benjamin Lee found Sherif El-Masri on the edge of the area, only to see his low shot trickle just wide of Shamsudin’s left-hand post. The Canadian had another chance to make amends for that miss but sent his freekick from 25 yards sailing harmlessly over the bar.
Gilbert Bayonne threatened to burst the net with a powerful shot on 39 minutes but just missed Syazwan’s top corner before Takaya Kawanabe fired straight at the custodian barely a minute later.
El-Masri then forced Shamsudin to work a little with a try in the 43rd minute before teammate Zulfahmi tested Shamsudin with a shot destined for the top corner just before the half-time whistle but the goalkeeper was alert and tipped it over for a corner.
After the break, Bayonne was first to have a shot on goal but shot straight into the side-netting.
But the Young Lions found their way back into the game not once, but twice in the space of two minutes as Faritz Hameed struck in the 54th minute before Benjamin Lee put his side into the lead a minute later.
The first was a goal which was the result of some good combination play down the right from Lee and Fazli Ayob. The latter then sent a low cross into the box for Faritz Hameed who had somehow managed to sneak in between Delwinder Singh and Syed Karim to poke the ball past the stranded Shamsudin Hashim.
The second however, was a moment of brilliance from Lee as he picked up the ball from 30 yards out before hitting a sweetly-struck shot into Shamsudin’s top corner to make it 2-1.
In the 70th minute, Asraf – who had faded off a little in the second half – then lashed a wild left-footed shot over and wide with Syazwan hardly troubled at all. Jaguars’ forward Bayonne missed a glorious opportunity to equalise for his side in the 73rd minute. After Zahid Ahmad’s cross was spilled by Young Lions’ Syazwan Buhari, the ball kindly fell to the feet of the mid-season signing but he fired wide from six yards out despite finding himself unmarked.
Jaguars skipper Delwinder Singh then had to be alert to make an important clearance off the line after substitute Shahfiq Ghani was faced with an one-on-one with Shamsudin in the box in the 80th minute.
A good run from Lee in the 88th minute saw him cut the ball back for substitute Haniff Sadique, but the forward scuffed his shot as the chance went begging. And at the end, Hafiz Osman had a chance to equalise and force the game to penalties to decide the winner but saw his volley fly just over with full-time shortly after as Tanjong Pagar crashed out of the Starhub League Cup.
Not good enough
Speaking after the defeat, Tanjong Pagar coach Terry Pathmanathan cut a frustrated figure when addressing members of the media.
“We were just not good enough today. It’s disappointing, you know. We are trying to snap that losing streak (of ours) but the players don’t seem to be able to do that.”
“I must (really) give credit to Young Lions; they played well and were determined to win even when they were one goal down.”
When asked about the performance of his new mid-season signings Carlos Delgado and Anthony Aymard especially, the former Singapore international did not mince his words.
“I’d have expected a lot more from them. To me, I think they are all struggling players. How good is good? That’s a big question mark for me.”
“It’s really bad, just look at Taka(ya Kawanabe), he’s made no impact at all! My players just do not have that little bit to win matches. Technically, we were just giving the ball away too easily (today).”
“It wasn’t easy definitely. ,” a relieved Young Lions coach Robin Chitrakar said immediately after the game.
“We conceded another early goal and that has to stop but the boys worked their socks off today to get the two goals. I thought they really deserved all the credit. They created the chances and it was hard work and teamwork which really saw us through tonight. They gave their all and I could see that they were hungry for this win!”
Ahead of the Plate Final this Friday, Chitrakar commented: “ Balestier is a different ball game altogether, (although) we have to prepare for it differently and again we will see what happens before the match. I hope I can get Faris (Ramli) fitter for the match, he was on the (substitutes’) bench today.”
Tanjong Pagar: Shamsudin Hashim; Delwinder Singh (C), Hafiz Osman, Anthony Aymard, Zahid Ahmad (Hanafi Salleh 77’); Asraf Rashid, Carlos Delgado, Takaya Kawanabe, Syed Karim (Azhar Ahmad 57’), Hafiz Nor (Jonathan Xu 51’); Gilbert Bayonne Unused subs: Fajar Sarib, Sudhershen Hariram, S Vikneshwaran
Courts Young Lions: Syazwan Buhari; Hafiz Sujad (C), Sirina Camara, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Faritz Hameed; Sherif El-Masri (Nazrul Nazari 75’), Shamil Sharif (Shahfiq Ghani 59’), Zulfahmi Arifin, Benjamin Lee; Fazli Ayob (Haniff Sadique 84’), Jonathan Toto Unused subs: Mohd Zulfairuuz, Faris Ramli, Gary Loo, Syafiq Zainal
Yellow card(s): Zahid Ahmad(Tanjong Pagar); Faritz Hameed (Courts Young Lions)
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