By Gabriel Tan at the Bishan Stadium
Frederic Mendy looked to have handed the Protectors all three points in the 80th minute when he met a Shotaro Ihata flick-on header with a fierce shot that flew past Fadhil Salim into the bottom corner.
However, Mamadou Diallo produced an individual piece of brilliance four minutes later when he picked up possession down the left and nonchalantly glided past a challenge, before clinically firing into the back of the net.
Despite some inconsistent displays in the first round of the campaign, Hougang entered the game high on confidence after winning their last three matches in the league, and it certainly showed as they started the brighter of the two teams on Saturday.
A poor touch from Nor Azli Yusoff in the fifth minute allowed Basit Hamid to nip in and race through down the left, although he failed to hit the target with his subsequent shot, before Jordan Webb leapt well to meet an Ante Barac corner nine minutes later but could only head straight at Nazri Sabri.
Two minutes before the half-hour mark, Home were nearly presented their first real chance when Stanislav Vidakovic failed to deal with a long ball and nearly allowed Ihata to steal in behind him, although he managed to recover before the Japanese striker could break clear.
However, Hougang's Croatian centre-back's night ended six minutes later when he limped off clutching his knee after an awkward landing, and his absence was almost exposed three minutes before the break when Mendy played a delightful flick to release Ihata, only for the former Albirex man to fire into the sidenetting with only Fadhil to beat.
Nine minutes into the second half, Ihata had another chance when he nodded just over from a Shi Jiayi corner and 11 minutes later, it was Mendy's turn to miss a header after he climbed highest to meet a searching cross from Masrezwan Masturi.
The Cheetahs then thought they had opened the scoring nine minutes after the hour mark when Basit Hamid tapped home from close range after Nazri has spilled a long-range shot from Barac, only to be denied by the linesman's flag for offside.
Nonetheless, the deadlock was finally broken by the Protectors ten minutes from time when a long ball from the back was met by Ihata and nodded into the path of Mendy, who lashed a first-time drive beyond the despairing dive of Fadhil.
Three minutes later, Diallo nearly equalised when he received the ball on the edge of the area and created space for himself with a couple of feints, before firing in a blistering drive that sailed just over.
However, there was to denying the Cheetahs striker a minute later when he was picked out down the left by an incisive pass from Azhar Sairudin, and proceeded to dance past a challenge from Jeremy Chiang effortlessly before sliding his shot under Nazri to steal a deserving share of the spoils for his side.
Home United: Nazri Sabri, Jeremy Chiang (Rosman Sulaiman 89'), Sofiyan Abdul Hamid, Kenji Arai, Masrezwan Masturi, Nor Azli Yusoff, Shi Jiayi, Firdaus Idros (Indra Sahdan Daud 60'), Shotaro Ihata, Qiu Li, Frederic Mendy.
Hougang United: Fadhil Salim, Faizal Amir, Hasree Zais, Stanislav Vidakovic (Syaqir Sulaiman 34'), Fazly Hasan, Jordan Webb, Azhar Sairudin, Ante Barac, Fazli Jaffar (Nurhilmi Jasni 90'), Mamadou Diallo, Basit Hamid (Sobrie Mazelan 70').