Warriors Keep Top Four Hopes Alive
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Warriors FC kept up the pressure on fourth-placed Geylang International after they edged Home United 2-1 in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Friday night.
Making his first start for Warriors this season, Suria Prakash scored the winner after M. Anumanthan had cancelled out Andrei-Cosmin Ciolacu’s opener as the nine-time league champions trail Geylang by three points with two games remaining.
Warriors were largely on top in the first half and could have scored inside four minutes but Suria’s low shot from a tight angle was kept out by Hassan Sunny at his near post.
It was the hosts who came close again 15 minutes later with Ciolacu volleying wide after he was teed up by Shahril Ishak.
The deadlock was however broken on 27 minutes as Ciolacu fired home the rebound after his initial shot was saved by an onrushing Hassan for his first goal in five matches.
But Anumanthan would level matters seven minutes later with a tap-in after the Warriors failed to clear their lines from a freekick.
Home’s joys were short-lived though as Suria rose highest to head Baihakki Khaizan’s deep freekick beyond the despairing dive of Hassan just two minutes later to restore the lead for Warriors.
Home head coach Aidil Sharin reacted by bringing on Christopher van Huizen for Izzdin Shafiq at the break in a move that nearly paid off.
The winger’s freekick delivery was met by a header from Abdil Qaiyyim at the far post but Warriors custodian Hyrulnizam dived low to parry it.
The game would then come to life in the final 15 minutes as both sides had chances to find the back of the net.
Plazibat pounced on an error from Zulfadli Zainal on the edge of the box but Kento Fukuda made a last-ditch tackle to block the Croatian’s shot on 77 minutes.
Down the other end two minutes later, an unmarked Shahril somehow fired over from outside the six yard box after some fluid attacking play by the Warriors.
There was one final opportunity for the Protectors to salvage a point with three minutes left on the clock but Fukuda came to the rescue with a goal line clearance.
The full time whistle went soon after with Warriors recording their first win in six league matches while Home slipped to their second straight defeat.
With the result, Warriors are fifth with 33 points from 22 games while Home remain in third with 43 points from 21 matches.
Warriors FC Head Coach Razif Onn: “We played well in the first half and I thought we managed to contain the threat of Stipe (Plazibat) and Faris (Ramli) who didn’t do too much damage. I look at the three points and not the performance because it's the win that matters.
“Suria is a good individual player and I was impressed with what I saw from him today. He can hold the ball well especially down the flanks and he is a player I am looking at for next year.”
Home United Head Coach Aidil Sharin: “We were unlucky today and the boys tried very hard. We were not sharp enough in the first half but the second half was much better. Kudos to Warriors, Hyrulnizam (Juma’at) did very well tonight and saved them a couple of goals.
“I’m happy Anumanthan managed to score today because he has worked very hard, especially when he hasn’t played competitive football in four months. Don’t forget, he has National Service commitments in the day and to come here to work his socks off for two hours - it’s not easy. I’m also pleased with the efforts of Aqhari (Abdullah) who has been doing very well at right-back.
“It was not easy for us to play three games in the space of seven days. It’s difficult for the players to perform at the same level for every game with just two or three days of rest but we will try our best for the remaining games.”
Warriors FC: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Emmeric Ong, Baihakki Khaizan, Kento Fukuda, Zulfadli Zainal, Fadhil Noh (Hafiz Nor 46’), Jordan Webb, Ho Wai Loon, Suria Prakash, Shahril Ishak (C), Andrei-Cosmin Ciolacu (Asyidiq Sukarto 90’)
Home United: Hassan Sunny (GK, C), Aqhari Abdullah, Abdil Qaiyyim (Haziq Azman 71’), Hariss Harun, Iqram Rifqi, Shamil Sharif (Amiruldin Asraf 63’), M. Anumanthan, Izzdin Shafiq (Christopher van Huizen 46’), Adam Swandi, Faris Ramli, Stipe Plazibat