Irfan Fandi was the hero for the Young Lions as they edged Warriors FC to a 1-0 win at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium to go top of the Singapore Premier League standings.
It was a second consecutive win for the Young Lions who edged 10-man Warriors FC to a 1-0 victory at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Sunday evening.
After a goalless first half, Irfan Fandi’s header just after the break was enough to help the developmental side earn three points and continue their fine start to the season.
In the absence of the injured Jonathan Behe, new signing Sahil Suhaimi made his competitive debut as he led the line for Warriors and it was his free-kick that nearly gave the hosts the lead inside the opening minute.
Fadhil Noh however, saw his header tipped onto the bar by Young Lions custodian Zharfan Rohaizad.
Mirko Grabovac’s side would go on to take control of proceedings, with Suria Prakash firing wide off Ho Wai Loon’s corner in the 13th minute before Sahil hit a free-kick straight at Zharfan 10 minutes later.
The rest of the game petered out but would come to life in the final five minutes of the half.
In the 41st minute, a full-stretch Warriors goalkeeper Fashah Iskandar had to push Rusyaidi Salime’s 25-yard free-kick onto the upright with Ismadi Mukhtar completing the clearance.
At the other end, Warriors were unlucky not to have gone ahead just before the break with the woodwork denying Poh Yi Feng and Fadhil Noh in quick succession on 44 minutes.
An unmarked Sahil then somehow nodded over at the far post as the half-time whistle sounded soon after.
2️⃣ wins in a row for Young Lions as they beat Warriors Football Club to go top of the #SPL table! 🔝👏
The home side continued from where they left off with Captain Kento Fukuda’s header flying the wrong side of the post two minutes after the restart.
Warriors were eventually made to pay for their profligacy when Irfan met Rusyaidi’s free-kick before thumping home a powerful header past Fashah in the 54th minute as the Young Lions netted from a set-piece for the second game running.
Hami came close to doubling the lead for the visitors on the hour mark with an effort that sailed narrowly over the bar following some good work from Naqiuddin Ahmad down the left.
Warriors piled on the pressure in the closing stages with Fukuda pushed upfront as an emergency striker in search of an equaliser but still found it hard going against a stout Young Lions defence.
Things got from bad to worse for Warriors as substitute Delwinder Singh was dismissed for a second bookable offence after a late challenge on Hami four minutes from time.
There was one final chance for Warriors to salvage a point but Fukuda flicked Ho’s corner against the post, summing up a frustrating night for the nine-time league champions.
The victory propelled the Young Lions to the top of the SPL standings after two games played, while Warriors find themselves in sixth with one point from the same amount of matches played.
Young Lions next face Balestier Khalsa FC in their third game in seven days on the night of April 11, Wednesday at Toa Payoh Stadium. Warriors are meanwhile up against Hougang United FC at Hougang Stadium four days later.
Warriors Head Coach Mirko Grabovac: “For me, this game was the same as the last one where we had so many chances but couldn’t finish them. If we don’t take our chances, we will get punished and that’s what happened today. We still don’t have the striker who can score the goals and we definitely missed (Jonathan) Behe upfront.
“Man to man, we also had some problems and our wingers lacked the confidence to put the ball into the box. I am a little disappointed with the result but not the performance and I believe we can only get better from here when our injured players return.”
Young Lions Head Coach Fandi Ahmad: “The secret behind this good run (of form) is the teamwork and fighting spirit showed by the boys today. It was tough playing against a good team like Warriors who pushed us really high up and didn’t allow us to play our style of football. But we grew into the game and the second half was better (than the first).
“We capitalised on set-pieces and scored from that which is something we have used to our advantage with the header from Irfan being a superb one.
“It’s only two games into the season but credit has to be given to the boys who have to stay focused and keep their feet on the ground.”
Warriors: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Emmeric Ong, Kento Fukuda (C), Hafiz Sulaiman (Nur Luqman 64’), Ismadi Mukhtar, Fadhil Noh (Delwinder Singh 55’), Ammirul Emmran, Poh Yi Feng (Firdaus Kasman 74’), Ho Wai Loon, Suria Prakash, Sahil Suhaimi
Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Prakash Raj (Aniq Iskandar 82’), Taufiq Muqminin (C), Irfan Fandi, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Rusyaidi Salime, Hami Syahin (Ifwat Ismail 84’), Joshua Pereira, Naqiuddin Ahmad (Adam Hakeem 90’+2), Syahrul Sazali, Ikhsan Fandi