Early red card ruffles Warriors in loss to Hougang
Sotirovic stars as early red eventually floors champions
HOUGANG UNITED 4
(Kunihiro Yamashita 11, Vuk Sotirovic 63, 78, Diego Gama 86-pen)
WARRIORS FC 1
(Fazrul Nawaz 28)
It was a game that had everything.
Five goals, a red card, a penalty, missed sitters and even a stanchion that collapsed halfway through the game; they all were on offer in last night's Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League clash at the Hougang Stadium.
Defending champions Warriors FC were left reeling at the end of it all, going down 4-1 to Hougang United.
The defeat, their second in three games, means they have yet to taste victory since the S.League resumed last month.
Their cause was certainly not helped when Marin Vidosevic was controversially sent off after just four minutes.
While the visitors did well to pull level after their opponents had opened the scoring, the numerical deficit eventually took its toll, as Hougang piled on three more goals after half-time to seal a commanding win.
After the match, Warriors coach Alex Weaver claimed that it was difficult for his side not to feel hard done-by over the way they were dealt such an early blow.
"We were put in a difficult situation as early as the fourth minute and something like that, especially in the manner which it happened, is very hard to take," he said.
"This is where the debate is probably going to go on… Vidosevic has seen Syaqir (Sulaiman) bleeding from the lip and he says, 'What the f***', not directing it at the referee or anyone and he's given a straight red.
"This is a professional sport played by very competitive men and it's not nice, but these words are said often in a match.
"From a consistency point of view, if that's a red card, then you're going to have to send someone off three or four times a game."
There was plenty of confusion in the lead-up to the early incident, as a huddle of players gathered before Vidosevic was shown a straight red by Muhd Syahir.
Hougang took advantage shortly after when Kunihiro Yamashita broke the deadlock with a close-range finish, but Fazrul Nawaz equalised for the visitors when he stabbed home a Kevin McCann cross in the 28th minute.
To make matters worse, Syahir then played a key role in the Cheetahs reclaiming the lead three minutes after the hour mark as he inadvertently deflected the ball past a wrong-footed Syaqir, allowing Vuk Sotirovic to pounce and skip past Daniel Bennett before finishing into the bottom corner.
Sotirovic then made it 3-1 in the 78th minute when he met Delwinder Singh's flick-on with a bullet header past Daniel Ong, before Diego Gama converted a penalty he had won with four minutes remaining to round off the scoring.
A sense of injustice was clearly evident in the Warriors camp at the final whistle, as Salim Moin's charges celebrated a welcome result that lifted them off the foot of the table.
The victory was particularly sweet for two-goal hero Sotirovic, Hougang's mid-season signing who is starting to find his feet after being hampered by injury.
"I'm happy with my display but happier that we got the win as that's the most important thing," said the Serb.
"I'm still not back at full fitness after missing three weeks, but I feel like I'm getting better with every game.
"Now, it's crucial that we continue to collect points, as it's very tight in the standings."
- HOUGANG: Ridhuan Barudin, Yuki Uchiyama, Tengku Mushadad (Lau Meng Meng 82), Kunihiro Yamashita, Delwinder Singh, Nurhilmi Jasni, Taufiq Ghani (Fairoz Hasan 80), Carlos Delgado, Fazli Jaffar (Fareez Farhan 67), Vuk Sotirovic, Diego Gama.
- WARRIORS: Daniel Ong, Emmeric Ong (Andy Ahmad 85), Daniel Bennett, Marin Vidosevic, Irwan Shah, Karlo Ivancic, Syaqir Sulaiman, Kevin McCann, Hafiz Rahim (Shi Jiayi 72), Hamqaamal Shah (Miroslav Pejic 46), Fazrul Nawaz.
- TNP Man of the Match: Vuk Sotirovic (Hougang)