Unfortunate Gombak fall prey to Albirex

Gombak United were left to rue their luck on Friday evening after they were beaten 1-0 by Albirex Niigata in the Great Eastern-YEO's S.League.

Matsui and Ismail on hands and knees...

By Gabriel Tan at the Jurong East Stadium

The White Swans took the lead in the 52nd minute when Sho Kamimura's blistering strike deflected off Toshikazu Soya and into the back of the net, despite Zaiful Nizam's best efforts to prevent the ball from crossing the line.

However, the visitors then proceeded to launch an all-out assault on the Albirex goal and were only denied a share of the spoils by the woodwork and some inspired goalkeeping from Takuma Ito.

Gombak entered the game looking to bounce back from last weekend's 1-0 loss to SAFFC, where they were rather unlucky to fall to ex-Albirex star Shimpei Sakurada's injury-time winner.

The hosts, on the other hand, entered the game on as one of the in-form teams in the competition after going four games without defeat, although they were held to disappointing draws in the last two weeks against Geylang United and Courts Young Lions.

Six minutes in, the White Swans created the first opening of the game when Kamimura made his way in behind the opposition defence after exchanging a clever one-two with Soya on the edge of the area. However, Zaiful had covered his angles well and comfortably denied the Albirex winger.

Kamimura, who has been one of the competition's best performers this season, was involved again seven minutes later when he went on a terrific run down the left before releasing Soya with a clever reverse ball, although the striker had to stretch and could only guide his shot wide of the target.

While they were enjoying plenty of possession, the White Swans remained patient in their build-up play but knew when best to inject a bit of pace. Kamimura again found himself in space in the 25th minute after being released by Masatake Sato, but his finishing let him down as he screwed an effort wide with only the Gombak custodian to beat.

Despite their lack of possession, the Bulls were looking lively whenever they had the ball and created a good opening four minutes before halftime when Samuel Benjamin went on a burst down the right and made his way into the area, although Ito rushed out well to smother the ball before the 17-year-old could get a shot away.

Four minutes later, the visitors were unlucky not to be ahead after some sloppy defending allowed Julien Durand to latch onto a loose ball and race through on goal. The Frenchman must have thought he had opened the scoring as he fired in a shot, only to see it take a slight nick off Ito and bounce agonisingly back off the post.

Two minutes after the break, Kamimura was once more in the thick of things, laying off a neat ball to Soya who looked poised to fire a shot away, only to be denied by a brave block from Adrian Dhanaraj.

However, that excellent bit of defending took its toll on the Gombak right-back as he had to be replaced moments later, and his departure proved costly right away as Albirex hit the front.

In Dhanaraj's absence, playmaker K. Vikraman was shifted back to defence and he offered little resistance to another one of Kamimura's blinding runs down the left. The 23-year-old proceeded to cut in on his right foot before unleashing a fierce strike that took a wicked deflection off Soya and made its way into the back of the net, beyond Zaiful's despairing dive.

Three minutes later, Soya wasted an excellent chance to double the White Swans' lead when he held off a challenge from Obadin Aikhena and skipped past a second opponent before firing just over, but from then on; it was Gombak all the way.

Watch: Highlights - Albirex Niigata 1-0 Gombak United... More Videos

A minute before the hour mark, Obadin powered a header at goal from Vikraman's cross that was well smothered by Ito, before the Japanese keeper pulled off a reflex save ten minutes later to deny Hafiz Rahim from just outside the area.

The Bulls continued to pile on the pressure and 12 minutes from time, and error in judgment from Kunihiro Yamashita allowed Hafiz to bear down on goal. Unfortunately for the visitors, the former Geylang star lacked the necessary composure and failed to keep his shot down.

Durand, who was getting increasingly lively as the clock ticked down, then curled a shot from the edge of the area just wide of goal, before he met a Hafiz delivery at the near post and flicked a header towards goal, only to see Ito tip it over with a terrific save.

Three minutes into injury time, Gombak mustered one final attempt to salvage a point as substitute Fairoz Hasan picked up the ball in the middle of the park and let fly from 25 yards. For the first time in the game, Ito was well and truly beaten but instead; the woodwork came to Albirex's rescue as the Bulls were left wondering what could have been as they were handed a third straight defeat.

Albirex Niigata: Takuma Ito, Hidekazu Yamamoto (Yuki Ichikawa 62'), Kunihiro Yamashita, Norihiro Kawakami, Takeshi Ito, Keisuke Matsui (Shuhei Hotta 74'), Atsushi Shimono, Musashi Okuyama, Masatake Sato (Yuhei Shiratori 88'), Sho Kamimura, Toshikazu Soya.

Gombak United: Zaiful Nizam, Adrian Dhanaraj (Amin Rossady 51'), Walid Lounis, Obadin Aikhena, Ismail Yunos, Samuel Benjamin (Fairoz Hasan 78'), Christopher Anderson (Jung Hee-bong 72'), K. Vikraman, Nurullah Hussein, Julien Durand, Hafiz Rahim.

Attendance: 1,379 

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