Young Lions' misery continues after Hougang defeat
A Stipe Plazibat brace and Taufiq Muqminin's own goal ensured the Cheetahs walked away with all three points, even though the hosts pulled a goal back through Fareez Farhan.
In truth, Hougang enjoyed the bulk of the chances and should have won by a bigger margin.
It took Hougang only three minutes to breach the Young Lions' goal, with Nazrul Nazari lobbing over Benjamin Bertrand for Plazibat to nod in the opener.
The hosts had chances to draw level after that but Fareez's free-kick on 11 minutes whistled over the bar, while his next set piece was headed over by Taufiq from six yards out.
The score could have read 2-0 by half-time but Bertrand managed to parry Plazibat's volley at the near post.
Hougang did extend the lead after the break, after Taufiq diverted Jozef Kaplan's cut-back into his own goal in the 52nd minute.
Four minutes later, Fumiya Kogure found Plazibat with his swerving free-kick but the forward placed his shot just wide of the post.
Kogure could have made it onto the scoresheet too just after the hour mark, but after running onto M.Anumanthan's through ball he struck his shot against the crossbar.
Kaplan then thought he had scored his first goal of the season after glancing a header past Bertrand, but he was adjudged to have been offside.
The Young Lions finally pulled back a goal in the 79th minute through an opportunity carved out by Adam Swandi. The Singaporean international was the Young Lions' most dangerous player all night but Hougang failed to heed the warning signs.
Despite being able to go for goal himself, Adam unselfishly released Zulfadhmi Suzliman who then cut back for Fareez to ram the ball home and make it 2-1.
However, the tie was settled three minutes later after Delwinder Singh did well to nod a header into Plazibat's path and he duly converted from close range to make it 3-1.
Just before full-time Kaplan tried to end his three-match scoreless run, but his seven-yard effort was deflected just past the post.
Hougang coach K.Balagumaran had praise for the Young Lions after the game despite them falling to their fourth straight defeat.
"It's a good win for us," said Balagumaran. "But you know the opponents are a young team and they played very well.
"So I should give credit to the Young Lions too."
It was back to the drawing room for the Young Lions, as coach Patrick Hesse lamented his side's inability to go into the break with the scores level.
"What's difficult in this game is that we often concede a goal at the beginning of the game and we have to chase from behind," Hesse said.
"I was hoping to arrive at the end of the half at 0-0 and perhaps we could win the game if we did."
But Hesse promised much improvement over the next few games, especially since injured key players like Khairul Amri have returned to training
"There is no balance at the moment for the team," he added.
"Today we showed some good things ... but we must let the players know they must work and work everyday. "