Woodlands fight back to down Young Lions

Woodlands Wellington came from a goal down to pick up their third win of the 2013 Great Eastern-YEO's S.League campaign after beating Courts Young Lions 3-1.

Chang gets his pass away in the nick of time.
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

Reporting from the Jalan Besar Stadium

Despite trailing at the break to Sherif El-Masri's deflected strike in the 9th minute, the Rams pulled level a minute before the hour mark when Moon Soon-ho raced onto a lovely pass by Khalid Hamdaoui before firing home.

Following an evenly-contested second half, a draw would have been a fair result but Woodlands had other ideas and edged ahead in the 82nd minute when Sheikh Abdul Hadi scored an unfortunate own-goal, before substitute Goh Swee Swee wrapped up the three points with a fine solo effort in injury-time.

The manner of the defeat was slightly harsh on the Young Lions given the way they battled valiantly all evening long, and it certainly could have been a different story had they been able to make the most of their early dominance.

Heading into the game with still pointless after six matches and fast needing to get on the board, Young Lions' cause was not helped by a suspension to captain Al-Qaasimy Rahman.

However, they showed no signs of being affected by his absence early on as they started the brighter of the two sides, and came close as early as the fifth minute when El-Masri got the slightest of touches to a Shamil Sharif cross, only for Yazid Yasin to tip it wide with a smart save.

But four minutes later, the hosts edged ahead when El-Masri, pouncing on a loose ball on the edge of the box, fired in a low shot that took a wicked deflection off Rosman Sulaiman and trickled into the bottom corner.

El-Masri then nearly turned provider in the 12th minute when he threaded a neat pass through to Afiq Noor, but having chose to fire a first-time shot away from a tight angle, he could only sent it straight at the opposition keeper.

Apart from El-Masri, Shamil was also showing promising signs and, midway through the first half, he twice went on barnstorming runs that led to chances for Young Lions, although on both occasions, he and Faiz Salleh were denied by smart saves from Yazid.

While they have had few problems in the attacking third so far this season, Woodlands were really struggling to find an opening and were largely restricted to set-pieces. Taufiq Rahmat did float in a couple of good balls but they were unable to find an equaliser; Rudy Khairullah claiming a corner with authority in the 35th minute, before Cho Sung-hwan glanced a freekick wide seven minutes later.

Yazid was by far the busier of the two custodians and had to make another excellent save in the 43rd minute when he denied Faiz Salleh in a one-on-one situation, after the winger had broken through following a silky one-two with El-Masri.

But despite their first-half dominance, Young Lions were lucky to stay ahead in the 54th minute when Chang found space down the left and curled in a delightful effort that had Rudy beaten all ends up, only for it to come back off the foot of the post.

Two minutes later, the woodwork came to their rescue again when Chang's left-wing cross, which had deflected off Sheikh Abdul Hadi, bounced back off the bar after looping over a stranded Rudy.

Growing in confidence, Woodlands looked increasingly likely to draw level and they duly did so in the 59th minute when Hamdaoui played a glorious through-ball to Moon, who shrugged off a challenge with ease before clinically firing past the onrushing Rudy.

Four minutes later, the Rams were then lucky not to be reduced to ten men when El-Masri was felled on the edge of the area by Shahril Alias just as he was about to burst through, only for referee Irwan Samsuddin to show the ex-Geylang United  man only a yellow.

El-Masri was threatening to steal the show as he posed one problem after another to the opposition defence, and he carved them open again in the 72nd minute with a lovely through-ball to Fareez Farhan, who immediately fired in a snapshot that was clawed away by Yazid, although it would not have counted anyway as the linesman had flagged for offside.

As players from both sides began to tire in the closing stages, more space began to open up and it was Woodlands who managed to capitalise when they took the lead ten minutes later; Chang beating Tajeli Salamat twice down the left before drilling in a cross that smashed off Hadi's shoulder and nestled into the back of the net.

And into the second minute of injury-time, the win was secured when Goh, on the field for just over five minutes, cut in from the left before unleashing a rocket off a strike past the stranded Rudy and into the top corner.

Courts Young Lions: Rudy Khairullah, Tajeli Salamat, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Emmeric Ong, Sufianto Salleh, Anumanthan Mohan Kumar, Shamil Sharif, Fareez Farhan, Afiq Noor (Nur Ridho 71'), Faiz Salleh (Farhan Rahmat 76'), Sherif El-Masri (Stanely Ng 85').

Woodlands Wellington: Yazid Yasin (Ahmadulhaq Che Omar 90'), Ang Zhiwei, Shahril Alias, Cho Sung-hwan, Rosman Sulaiman, Atsushi Shimono, Armanizam Dolah, Chang Jo-yoong, Khalid Hamdaoui, Taufiq Rahmat (Fadhil Noh 56', Goh Swee Swee 85'), Moon Soon-ho.

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