Woodlands Wellington 1
(Oswind Suriya 87’)
Gombak United 2
(Hafiz Rahim (penalty) 63’, Mustaqim Manzur 83’)
On a cool Sunday evening, Gombak United edged out as victors in a 2-1 win over Woodlands Wellington in front of a mere crowd of 283 spectators at the Woodlands Stadium.
Woodlands had a nervy start to the game, as they nearly conceded an early goal two minutes in when the crowd had barely warmed their seats. A long ball from the back was picked up by Julien Durand who continued his run into the box, only to see stand-in centre-back Hussein Akil putting in a crucial block to prevent the cross from reaching Samuel Benjamin.
Akil stood in for the injured Fabien Lewis, who is currently still troubled by a niggling hernia problem and looks set to miss the next couple of games at least.
But two good saves in the 13th and 20th minute from either goalkeeper – Ang Bang Heng for Woodlands and Zaiful Nizam for Gombak – on the night meant that the scoreline remained intact.
It was the Rams who created the next opportunity in the 22nd minute but Daniel Hammond directed his header wide off Armanizam Dolah’s free-kick. Goh Swee Swee‘s powerful shot on the edge of the penalty area then flew just wide of the upright as Woodlands looked likely to open the scoring.
It was a rather even first-half and on the other end, Mustaqim Manzur beat Woodlands right-back Danny Chew for pace before firing one into the side-netting. A lapse of concentration from Ismail Yunos on the half-hour mark then almost allowed Goh to poke the ball home to break the deadlock.
On the stroke of half-time, Hafiz Rahim set up the overlapping Nurullah Hussein with a shot but Ang was equal to it and pushed it away as the half-time whistle was blown right after.
A contentious penalty decision from referee P Jeevanathan in the 57th minute then saw the Bulls take the lead and Woodlands reduced to ten men.
Julien Durand was put through on goal by K Vikraman and in an attempt to poke the ball past Ang Bang Heng, the custodian tripped him down in the area. It earned the 32-year-old an early shower as Ahmadulhaq Che Omar came on for Guntur Djafril.
Hafiz Rahim stepped up to send Ahmadulhaq the wrong way and successfully converted the spot-kick for the game’s first goal.
1-0 later became 2-0 on 83 minutes after a mistake from Ahmadulhaq as Mustaqim capitalised on it to tap into an empty net.
But Oswind Suriya pulled one back for the home side in the 87th minute to set up a tense finish to the game. Receiving a pass from Moon on the edge of the area, the midfielder weaved past the red shirts in his way and tucked it away into the bottom corner.
It was not enough though for Woodlands, as they slumped to another defeat and it has been 16 games since they last tasted victory in the league.
The penalty helped his side to victory, according to Gombak coach K Balagumaran.
“Yes, I think it was a red and that (penalty) helped us (along the way).We played well and according to our gameplan.”
He however admitted that his charges got complacent after scoring the second goal but was generally pleased with the result.
“We became a little complacent after we scored the second goal as we thought we already had the three points in our bag. But at the end of the day, a win is still a win although there are many areas where work has to be done.”
Poor finishing was ultimately still a concern for the Tampines youth coach who did not seem too pleased with how wasteful Jung Hee Bong was.
“Look at the chances we created but the finishing was just not there. Even for Bong who came in, he had two clear chances to score and he didn’t. Is he a striker?”
One half team
Although losing, Woodlands assistant coach Clement Teo meanwhile was rather satisfied with the team’s performance but highlighted the fact about his team being a ‘one half team’.
“Yes, we looked good today!”
“But what more can I say? In most of the games, we are a one half team; we either do well in one half or do badly.”
“The first goal was definitely a penalty but the second was a gift, we gave it to them.”
He later revealed that he will have a goalkeeping problem in his hands as Ahmadulhaq will miss his side's next game due to reservist. With Ang Bang Heng suspended, Prime League goalkeeper Fearghus Bruce could be given a chance in the first-team in their next game against Hougang.
Woodlands: Ang Bang Heng; Duncan Elias, Daniel Hammond (C), Danny Chew, Goh Swee Swee; Guntur Djafril (Ahmadulhaq Che Omar 61’), Oswind Suriya, Armanizam Dolah, Farizal Basri (Shamsurin Rahman 69’); Moon Soon Ho, Hussein Akil
Unused subs: K Sathiaraj, Dinie Fitri, Danial Tan, Zulkarnain Malik
Gombak: Zaiful Nizam; Nurullah Hussein, Ismail Yunos, Obadin Aikhena (C), K Vikraman (Jung Hee Bong 64’ (Iqbal Hussain 78’)); Adrian Dhanaraj, Chris Anderson, Mustaqim Manzur, Samuel Benjamin (Fairoz Hasan 46’), Hafiz Rahim, Julien Durand
Unused subs: Rudy Khairullah, Walid Lounis, Zulfadhli Emran, Amin Rossady
Yellow card(s): Daniel Hammond (Woodlands); Ismail Yunos, Adrian Dhanaraj (Gombak)
Red card: Ang Bang Heng (Woodlands)
You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlleOAlle, and reach me at email@example.com