Harimau beat Jaguars to go fifth in S.League

Harimau Muda edged back into the top five of the Great Eastern-YEO's S.League after beating Tanjong Pagar United 2-0 on Friday evening.

Hazwan races clean through!

By Gabriel Tan at the Queenstown Stadium

Ahmad Hazwan broke the deadlock in the 28th minute when he fired past Fajar Sarib from close range, before D. Saarvindran wrapped things up two minutes after the hour mark with an emphatic finish from 12 yards out.

The win meant Ong Kim Swee's charges restarted the campaign in the best possible way following the mid-season break, and was also a strong response from the Malaysian outfit following the disappointment of failing to qualify for the AFC U-22 Asian Cup.

Heading into the game without talented playmaker Nazmi Faiz, who has signed for Portuguese Liga side Beira-Mar, as well as wing duo Wan Zack Haikal and Wan Zaharulnizam, who are currently on trial in Japan, plenty were wondering how Harimau would cope without the inspirational trio.

However, their absences did afford chances to some of Ong's less-illustrious players to stake their claim for a regular berth in the starting XI, and one of them - Saarvindran - nearly opened the scoring in the seventh minute when he screwed an effort just wide from the edge of the area.

The 19-year-old fired another warning shot ten minutes later when he screwed a shot narrowly wide after being sent racing down the right by a clever ball from Affize Faisal, before Tanjong Pagar custodian Fajar did well a couple of minutes later to race out and block a point-blank range effort from Hazwan, after the Malaysia international had exchanged a neat one-two with Syahrul Azwari.

While the hosts were losing out in the possession stakes, the central midfield duo of Carlos Delgado and Anthony Aymard, both making their debuts following mid-season transfers, were showing some promising signs, and offered Tanjong Pagar some grit and guile that they have been missing all season long.

However, it was two of the more familiar faces in the Jaguars camp that nearly helped them open the scoring in the 27th minute. Japanese forward Takaya Kawanabe, who was deputising as captain for Delwinder Singh, let fly from distance with a shot that deflected off Fadhli Shas and looked set to fall straight to Azhad Ahmad at the far post, until Harimau keeper Izham Tarmizi weighed in with a vital clearance.

And his intervention proved all the more vital a minute later when Syahrul broke free down the right and played a perfectly-weighted ball across the face of goal, leaving Hazwan with a simple tap-in to break the deadlock.

Six minutes before the break, Izham came to the visitors' rescue again when he produced a flying save to keep out a fierce strike from Kawanabe, before Hazwan wasted a good chance to double his side's advantage four minutes later when he sent a shot over after being picked out by a superb cross from the left by Fandi Othman.

Three minutes into the second half, Hazwan was presented with another glorious opportunity when he somehow missed from two yards out after another excellent delivery from Syahrul, who was causing all sorts of problems for Zahid Ahmad down the flank.

A minute before the hour mark, Syahrul then had a chance to get on the scoresheet himself when he was handed a clear shot at goal inside the area, only to be denied by an excellent one-on-one save by Fajar Sarib, before Fadhli rushed the follow-up effort and could only send it wide.

However, there was to be no denying Harimau three minutes later when midfield general Affize played a terrific ball down the right to release Syahrul, who proceeded to lay the ball back into the path of Saarvindran to emphatically finish from ten yards out.

Watch: Highlights - Tanjong Pagar 0-2 Harimau Muda... More Videos

Despite being outplayed in all areas of the park, Tanjong Pagar did manage to create their fair share of chances and Izham again had to be at his best to smother the ball at the feet of Gilbert Bayonne in the 74th minute, after he had been initially tested by a fierce 20-yar drive from Delgado.

Eight minutes from time, substitute Thamil Arasu should have added a third for Harimau when he sidefooted an effort wide after a dangerous delivery from Nazirul Naim, before Kawanabe missed out on an opportunity to pull one back a minute later when he narrowly missed a good delivery from Jonathan Xu at the far post.

Tanjong Pagar had one final chance to grab a consolation as the clock ticked over into injury-time when Bayonne, who had been well marshalled by Fadhli and Shahrul Saad all evening long, created space for himself with a clever spin on the edge of the area, only to fire a shot wide.

With that, the Jaguars were condemned to a 10th defeat of the season, while Harimau leapfrogged SAFFC and Balestier Khalsa into fifth.

Tanjong Pagar United: Fajar Sarib, Jonathan Xu, Hafiz Osman, Hanafi Salleh, Zahid Ahmad, Asraf Rashid, Anthony Aymard, Carlos Delgado, Azhar Ahmad, Takaya Kawanabe (Hazzuwan Halim 84'), Gilbert Bayonne.

Harimau Muda: Izham Tarmizi (Farhan Abu Bakar 90'), Mahalli Jasuli, Shahrul Saad, Fadhli Shas, Nazirul Naim, Syahrul Azwari, Gary Robbat, Affize Faisal, Fandi Othman, D. Saarvindran (Ferris Danial 76'), Ahmad Hazwan (Thamil Arasu 76').



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