Rams fall to narrow defeat in Brunei
Woodlands Wellington coach Salim Moin was sent to the stands as a solitary Joao Moreira goal was enough to give DPMM FC all three points after a Jekyll-and-Hyde-performance at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium on Sunday night.
Marquee signing Ivan Bosnjak returned to the starting line-up after the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) gave the Croatian, who was sporting a precautionary rugby cap as a result of a skull fracture received against Hougang United almost a month ago, the green light to take to the field.
The 34-year-old started out the game as DPMM's brightest light, latching onto a Shahrazen Said pass as early as the first minute, but from such a tight angle, he could do no more than fire straight at the legs of goalkeeper Ahmadulhaq Che Omar.
The Croatian was not letting his skull fracture hinder his game and he followed up his first attempt with four more in the space of the first 15 minutes, including a glancing header from a Rosmin Kamis corner that flashed just wide of Ahmadulhaq's left-hand post.
Hendra Azam, starting in favor of Stephane Auvray, was doing a good job of shackling Khalid Hamdaoui in the heart of the Rams' midfield, who was reduced to little more than a spectator for the first half hour. Brewing with confidence, the 24-year-old Hendra tried his luck from just outside the box, only to see his effort sail wide of the mark.
The midfielder did play a key part in the winning goal, floating a ball into the box for Moreira from a set-piece just inside the Rams' half. The Portuguese striker controlled the ball wonderfully with his shoulder but Cho Sunghwan's hesitation to close down the 27-year-old down allowed him to direct a miscued effort into the far corner on the half hour mark.
Skipper Armanizam Dolah had Woodlands' first real sight of goal when he blasted a 30-yard shot just over Wardun Yussof's bar in the 32nd minute, but it was little more than the Rams deserved for a toothless first half performance.
Moon Soon-Ho replaced Taufiq Rahmat at the break, the South Korean having only started on the bench as a result of a fever. The 32-year-old's introduction and the departure of the lively Ivan Bosnjak would swing the game in Woodlands' favor, as DPMM received a taste of their own medicine and were pegged back in their own half for large periods of the second half.
The striker came close just after the hour mark, curling over from the edge of the area after Ang Zhi Wei and Chang Jo Yoon had combined well to create a little pocket of space for Moon.
Hamdaoui then hammered a free-kick straight into the wall, after he had been blocked off by Dino Drpic outside the box.
The Dutchman produced a moment of magic when he spotted Moon's clever run into the box, but a hefty touch from the South Korean gave Drpic enough time to nick the ball away before he could lash home from six yards out.
A frantic end to the game saw Subhi Abdillah head clear a goal-bound shot from Hamdaoui before Ahmadulhaq snatched the ball off Shahrazen's head for what would have been a certain goal, whilst Tales dos Santos also made a cameo appearance after spending almost eight months out.