Saturday, October 8, 2011

Full Time report : Hougang United vs Tanjong Pagar (6 Oct)

Seven goal thriller ends Hougang favour

The fire in the cauldron of the Hougang Stadium was almost extinguished, not by the rain, by a gutsy Tanjong Pagar side on Thursday night as the Jaguars were minutes away from snatching a credible point after coming from three goals behind only to be denied by an injury-time Jordan Webb winner.

The final score of 4-3 in favour of Hougang was not on the script for much of the game. A header from veteran winger Noor Ali off a corner had given the Cheetahs a 7th minute lead which Carlos Delgado doubled on 24th after great set-up work from Webb, who went on a mazy run down the left wing.

After racing to a two-goal lead, the home side then slowed the tempo a little which allowed the Jaguars to start fashioning a few moves through Frenchman Cyril Bagnost and rising starlet Hafiz Nor.

However, Brazilian Diego Oliveira should have added to Hougang’s tally before the break but for Jaguars’ keeper Ng Jia Fa and journeyman Azlan Alipah.

Midfield general Azhar Sairudin also had an outrageous lob attempt from half-way field which just landed on the top of the Jaguars’ net.

Tanjong Pagar came out of the second period looking for a way back in the game with the introduction of Patrick Paran to partner Takaya Kawanabe upfront. Both were to have something to cheer about as the game went on.

On 64 minutes, another assist from Webb allowed another half-time substitute Sobrie Mazlan to find the bottom corner for 3-0 and the Jaguars looked dead and buried.

Two minutes later, Bagnost pulled his team straight back into the contest. The former Etoile man showed great enterprise and determination to get into position before fortune benefited him as his left footer, which appeared to have been intended as a cross, sneaked in via Fadhil Salim’s near post.

The impressive Hafiz then almost got his third goal in three games but he hesitated in a one vs one situation which allowed Fadhil to smother the danger.

A counter-attack on 76 minutes saw Kawanabe calmly slotted it in for 3-2 after a brilliant through ball from Jaguars’ substitute Shamil Sharif was controlled immaculately by the Japanese.

Hafiz, who had been threatening all night, finally stamped his mark on 79 minutes as he showed a combination of skill and determination to set up Paran for a simple finish to tie the game up at three apiece.

The away side could have easily sank the hearts of the Hougang diehards on 85 minutes Bagnost showed great feet and balance to trick his way down the left flank and squared the ball to Kawanabe. However the diminutive forward’s volley was met by the wonderful reflexes of Fadhil.

This laid the platform for the home win in stoppage time as Webb met Fazli Jaffar’s freekick and flicked the ball home to ensure late drama at Hougang.

Cheetahs’ coach Aide Iskandar was a relieved man at the end.

“I knew they were on a high and could spring a surprise. They have improved a lot since the start of the season and credit to them and Terry, who has done a good job”, he said.

While he lamented the lapse of concentration and defensive errors that almost cost his side, the former national skipper showed pragmatism in the end, “I am glad that my boys kept pushing. At his stage of the season, I guess the most important thing is three points”.

On the other end, with regards to the comeback which nearly materialized, Jaguars’ team manager Steve Nathan noted the emphasis on being focused and the increased confidence of the players following Aide's substitutions at half-time of Noor Ali (tactical) and Delgado (illness).

He remarked, “ I thought the team’s performance was excellent, considering it was the first time that we have played in the kind of weather”.

“You can see we took awhile to adapt. But I am pleased with the fight back, the spirit displayed and I thought we deserved to win”, he added.

Hougang next travel up to Jurong West to face off with Gombak on 12 Oct while the Jaguars renew ties with their old adversaries Geylang a day later at Bedok.

~extracted from hugo boss

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