Hougang United continued their Singapore Premier League revival with a 1-1 draw against Brunei DPMM at the National Stadium on Sunday.
Ukrainian forward Volodymyr Priyomov struck 12 minutes from time to earn Brunei DPMM FC a 1-1 draw with bottom side Hougang United at the Singapore National Stadium on Sunday evening.
Hougang looked set to earn their second straight Singapore Premier League (SPL) win after Stanely Ng’s first-half penalty, but they paid the price for a jaded second-half performance as Priyomov struck a late equaliser.
Buoyed by their first win of the season against Balestier Khalsa FC last weekend, Hougang – led by Caretaker Head Coach Clement Teo – displayed their new-found confidence in the opening stages by stringing together a few good passes.
The Cheetahs could have scored as early as in the seventh minute, but French-Italian forward Antoine Viterale’s speculative 25-yard shot unluckily came off the crossbar.
They threatened again nine minutes later, with Viterale seeing his curling shot pushed around the post by DPMM goalkeeper Wardun Yussof after he was sent through on goal by Ng.
Their pressure would pay off on 24 minutes as they were awarded a spot-kick due to a nudge by DPMM centre-back Abdul Aziz Tamit on Viterale in the area.
Ng duly produced an audacious effort with his outside-foot from 12 yards out for his first goal in Cheetahs colours to put Hougang 1-0 up.
Despite having Fabian Kwok as a makeshift centre-back alongside Adam Mitter due to Illyas Lee’s suspension, Teo’s side held their fort well in the first half with DPMM’s first shot on target coming after 43 minutes.
Iranian forward Mojtaba Mollasaraei went on a good solo run, before seeing his shot from a tight angle denied by the legs of Hougang custodian Khairulhin Khalid.
DPMM emerged for the second half with much more vigour and could have levelled matters on 53 minutes, with Mollasaraei somehow tapping wide from Azwan Ali Rahman’s inswinging corner.
The Wasps went close again eight minutes later as Adi chipped wide with just Khairulhin to beat after being teed up by Azwan Ali.
Meanwhile Hougang failed to replicate their energetic first-half performance and wasted a number of good opportunities to score.
One of those fell to Viterale on 73 minutes, but he headed wide from Captain Nurhilmi Jasni’s right-wing cross.
They were made to pay for their profligacy five minutes later as DPMM grabbed a deserved equaliser.
Taking advantage of some slack Hougang defending, Priyomov checked inside his marker before slamming an unerring shot beyond Khairulhin’s despairing reach and into the bottom left corner for his ninth goal of the season.
Rene Weber’s side could have stolen all three points late on, but Khairulhin stood up strong in the dying stage.
The 26-year-old denied Abdul Azizi Rahman’s close-range header on 81 minutes, before showing stunning reflexes to repel Azwan Ali’s shot from point-blank range three minutes later to preserve a point for the Cheetahs.
The result meant DPMM climbed back to fifth spot with 15 points from 10 matches, while Hougang remained bottom with seven points from 12 outings.
DPMM will host Warriors FC next Saturday, while Hougang go away to face Home United FC the following evening.
Hougang United FC Caretaker Head Coach Clement Teo: “I can’t fault my boys. They improved leaps and bounds in terms of tactical awareness. The determination and work rate they put in… I can’t fault them. We had chances to score, but unfortunately they did not materialise.
“It’s the National Stadium and everyone wants to prove themselves. It’s a once-in-the-lifetime opportunity for some players to play here. There must be freedom in how we play… We could have slowed it down (in the first half) but that’s our game plan – to move very quickly.
“Before the last game (against Balestier), I asked who was confident and Stanely was the first one to put his hands up. Players have to take responsibility and it’s good for Stanely (to score tonight). Now the only direction for us is up. It’s good that the players are now feeling confident and enjoying themselves. That’s what we want them to do – enjoy your jobs and not feeling like you’re dragging yourselves to work.”
Brunei DPMM FC Head Coach Rene Weber: “It’s about one team playing and one team defending. I know they’re fighting for points… They just defend, defend and (wait for) some counter attacks. But we didn’t play well in the first 45 minutes and I’m not very happy with how we played. We wasted that 45 minutes.
“I talked about it in the dressing room – we were just looking at our opponents playing and we don’t look to fight. That’s not the right way to play. Second half, we came back better. You can see they (Hougang) improved and they have too much motivation.
“It’s difficult for us so far because we played eight out of 10 games away. We have some games at home now and we must prepare the team well because other opponents are improving. Our target is always top four.”
Hougang United FC: Khairulhin Khalid (GK), Faiz Salleh, Fabian Kwok, Adam Mitter, Jordan Vestering, Justin Hui, Nazrul Nazari (Jordan Chan 87’), Amir Zalani (Iqbal Hussain 64’), Nurhilmi Jasni (C), Antoine Viterale, Stanely Ng (Nasrul Taib 79’)
Brunei DPMM FC: Wardun Yussof (GK), Helmi Zambin (Abdul Azizi Rahman 76’), Abdul Aziz Tamit, Brian McLean, Suhaimi Sulau, Azwan Saleh (C), Hendra Azam (Shafie Efenddy 67’), Azwan Ali Rahman, Adi Said (Najib Tarif 86’), Volodymyr Priyomov, Mojtaba Mollasaraei