The FFT S.League Takeaway: Warriors up to second, while Protectors back to earth

FFT Singapore’s Kenneth Tan rounds up all the action as we look back on a goal-laden ninth week of the 2014 S.League season...

Peerless Pejic leads Warriors to yet another victory

Over the past couple of weeks, Warriors FC forward Miroslav Pejic has been on a mission to prove that he can provide more than just goals.

After creating three out of the four goals for partner-in-crime Nicholas Velez the last time out, he notched up another three assists on Thursday night against Courts Young Lions.

An intelligent one-two with Velez led to the latter slotting the opener past Syazwan Buhari in the first half, before another nice cutback created acres of space for the goalscorer to net his brace on the hour mark.

The Croatian’s fantastic feat was completed after Marin Vidosevic rose the highest to nod his brilliant inswinging corner home.

That led the Warriors to their sixth victory of the season despite a late rally by Aide Iskandar’s boys. They are now just two points off the pace and will go into a blockbuster clash against Home United next brimming with confidence.

Pejic (second from right) joins in the celebrations after strike partner Velez's (No. 10) goal. Photo: Weixiang Lim

Match Details: Young Lions 2 Warriors 3

Cheetahs need to cut out defensive clangers

After a two-match losing streak, it must have been a welcome sight for the Hougang HOOLs to see their beloved Cheetahs return to winning ways against Harimau Muda.

However it is essential that they do not get too carried away by the victory. Hougang failed to do much for their top-six credentials despite scoring four goals.

Three of that quartet came via errors from opposition keepers Solehin Mamat and Ilham Amirullah, while their own custodian Nazri Sabri did not exactly cover himself in glory either.

The latter spilled the ball in the build-up to two of the three Young Tigers’ goals, while his defenders went AWOL for the other.

Conceding three goals to a team which has just scored five goals prior to that is indeed a worrying sign and Amin Nasir has it all to do in this upcoming weeks.

Match Details: Harimau Muda 3 Hougang 4

Gutsy Jaguars find some light at the end of the tunnel

It has been a rocky ride for Tanjong Pagar United fans and players alike this year.

However judging from last Friday’s performance against Tampines Rovers, they might just turn the corner soon.

Veterans like Hafiz Osman and Nor Azli Yusoff used their experience to stave off the pressure from the Stags strikeforce, while Sebastien Etiemble produced yet another gritty display to provide service for Monsef Zerka.

Credit also has to be given to coach Patrick Vallee for throwing on the inexperienced duo of Seah Si Hao and M Arvin. Previously reluctant to call on the youngsters, the Frenchman gave the duo their chance to shine in the second half and they duly ran their socks off for the team’s cause.

Although they were unable to hold on for what would be a morale-boosting victory, the Jaguars should take heart from a real gutsy showing against the defending champions.

Match Details: Tanjong Pagar 1 Tampines 1

DPMM dish out attacking masterclass, again

In last week’s 6 Spicy Questions, we asked whether Brunei DPMM could continue their attacking prowess at home after their trigger-happy outings in their last two games at Bandar Seri Begawan.

And true enough, they proved that those emphatic victories against Courts Young Lions and Harimau Muda were no fluke as they romped to a delightful 4-1 victory over Balestier Khalsa.

Just like many other sides in the league, the Tigers found it hard to handle the red-hot strike duo of Rodrigo Tosi and Roy O’Donovan.

Tosi’s lofted pass led to O’Donovan slotting home the opener and the latter repaid the favour by earning a spot-kick which Tosi duly slammed past Zaiful Nizam. Tosi then added a second through a tap-in while O’Donovan matched his striker partner’s feat with a sizzling left-footed finish.

The attacking masterclass kept DPMM at the top of the table and Steve Kean’s men now have a healthy goal difference of +19. That could well prove crucial in what could be a tight title race this season.

Match Details: DPMM 4 Balestier 1

The Rams are pesky customers

The frustration of the Geylang International players was clear after the draw against Woodlands Wellington. Well, they are not alone – just ask the likes of Tampines, Tanjong Pagar and Hougang.

Over the course of this season, Darren Stewart’s side have proved to be a real tough nut to crack and they showed it once again on Saturday night.

Woodlands were not impressive in the first half where they deservedly went down to a Kento Fukuda goal, but they clawed themselves back into the affair thereafter through a simple yet effective attacking move involving Atsushi Shimono, Chang Jo-Yoon and Moon Soon-Ho.

From there on, the Eagles huffed and puffed but just could not find the crucial second goal to beat Yazid Yasin.

That was the Rams’ fifth draw of the season and they have still only lost two games thus far. Stewart’s men now have to replicate that grittiness against a free-scoring DPMM next.

Match Details: Geylang 1 Woodlands 1

White Swans give Protectors a taste of their own medicine

Leaking four goals without reply is never a good feeling; just ask the Albirex Niigata (Singapore) players after last week’s stunning setback to the Warriors. To make things worse, Home United, their opponents on the night, also scored an identical amount against Tanjong Pagar the last time out.

However, the White Swans threw the form book out of the window as they dispatched four of their own past the Protectors on Sunday night.

Hotshot Kazuki Sakamoto gave them the lead on 10 minutes after converting Kento Nagasaki’s centre before they blew the Protectors away with three goals in 11 second-half minutes.

Kazuya Okazaki took advantage of Shahril Jantan’s uncertainty to slot home the second, Sakamoto benefited from Nagasaki’s brilliant ball to poke home the third while Shohei Hotta completed the rout with a tap-in.

Although Lee Lim Saeng’s men eventually got two goals back via Lee Kwan-Woo’s laser-guided long shots, there was no denying an emphatic victory for Tatsuyuki Okuyama’s charges on the night.

It turned out to be the perfect preparation for a big clash against Tampines in Round 10.

Match Details: Albirex 4 Home Utd 2