Debutant Suto clinches point for Warriors

A late goal from debutant Marijan Suto helped Warriors FC earn a point at home against Brunei DPMM as they halted a run of three straight defeats. 

The 19-year-old scored in the 89th minute of the match to level matters, after DPMM had taken the lead on the hour mark.

Both sides had plenty of chances to score throughout the game but failed to take them, with the hosts hitting the woodwork on two occasions.

Jorg Steinebrunner had nothing but praise for his Prime League striker, calling it a “decent debut”.

“The thing is, he has been training with us for the last few months,” Steinebrunner said of Suto, who has scored 11 times in six games in the Prime League.

“He’s different to (Jonathan) Behe… He’s good at holding the ball. Even in the Prime League he doesn’t need many chances to score a goal.

“Today, he set up a few good chances and he can play with his back to the goal… There are still things to improve on but overall I would say it was a pleasing one.”

While Suto salvaged a point for Warriors, it could have been a far different outcome for the nine-time S.League champions.

In the seventh minute, Ridhuan Muhamad was brought down by DPMM goalkeeper Wardun Yussof after the winger surged into the box, but referee W. Ravisanthiran allowed play to go on instead.

Goalkeeper Zainol Gulam, starting in place of the suspended Yazid Yasin, was called into action several times, and the 24-year-old pulled off several good saves.

He denied Paulo Sergio twice in the 12th and 22nd minute, and had to dive at full stretch to tip away a Rafael Ramazotti header four minutes later.

A good move from DPMM saw Azwan Ali set up Azwan Salleh for a shot, but Zainol proved equal to the task once more, this time stopping it with his legs.

Warriors could have gone ahead just before half-time when Zainol took a quick free-kick to launch a counter-attack in the 39th minute. Hafiz Nor surged down the left, before sending Behe through on goal but the striker shot straight at Wardun instead.

Behe then missed another great opportunity, this time 10 minutes into the second half, and Warriors were made to pay for it as DPMM broke the deadlock.

Controlling a cross from the right-wing, Ramazotti laid it on for Sergio, who rounded Zainol before smashing into goal.

Suto hit an effort onto the crossbar in the 69th minute as Warriors chased an equaliser, before an unmarked Behe headed over a minute later.

Warriors hit the woodwork once more in the 81st minute, this time through Poh Yi Feng, after he got to the rebound from Suto’s blocked effort first.

Steinebrunner’s charges continued to pile on the pressure and finally got the equaliser they were searching for when Suto ghosted into the far post to meet Hafiz Rahim’s sublime cross and send a header into the bottom corner.

Still, Ramazotti had a fantastic chance to clinch three points for DPMM right at the death when Sergio picked him out with a wonderful cross, only for the Brazilian to fire over from point-blank range.

After the game, Steinebrunner praised his players for the way they continued to push for an equaliser despite hitting the woodwork twice.

“If you look at the players, it’s a different body language today,” the German said.

“The players looked engaged in the last few minutes. Credit to the boys, mentally, they have improved. They believed in themselves, and kept up the spirit to go forward.

“Overall, it was an entertaining game, both teams never took the foot off the pedal.

“This point, result-wise, we can build on it psychologically.”

Steinebrunner also apologised for his outburst after the game against Tampines Rovers.

“Regarding last week’s press conference, it was a few harsh words. I think in that sense, an apology is needed to everyone, also to the media,” he said.

On the other hand, DPMM coach Steve Kean admitted that conceding such a late goal was a bitter pill to swallow.

“It’s hard to take,” Kean stated.

“Not the late goal, but the manner of it. We had so many chances; enough for us to secure the three points much earlier in the game… it’s tough.

“We were a bit nervous near the end, and invited pressure onto us.”