Young Lions Hold Warriors For Second Consecutive Draw
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Garena Young Lions put up a spirited display to hold nine-time league champions Warriors FC to a goalless draw in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday night.
There were no lack of goalscoring opportunities though, as it took a combination of heroics from both goalkeepers and the woodwork to deny either team from getting all three points.
Warriors winger Jordan Webb returned from injury as he took his place on the flanks while Young Lions captain Shahrin Saberin was reinstated to the starting line-up after missing the Balestier Khalsa game due to suspension.
It was the visitors who nearly got their noses in front in the seventh minute when Baihakki Khaizan sent a header off Shahril Ishak’s freekick straight at Young Lions goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad.
Richard Tardy’s young charges created their first chance of note after 25 minutes, with Ikhsan Fandi’s low shot easily smothered by Warriors custodian Zainol Gulam.
An unmarked Fadhil Noh could have put Warriors ahead on the half-hour mark after finding himself off Webb’s cutback, but his flick was too weak to trouble Zharfan.
With four minutes remaining in the first-half, Baihakki then rose highest to meet another Shahril freekick delivery but his header was tipped over by Zharfan.
Zharfan was at it again moments later, pushing Syaqir Sulaiman’s acrobatic effort onto the bar to keep his side in the game.
At the other end, Taufik Suparno came close to netting the opener on the 42nd minute after meeting Ikhsan Fandi’s cross but the 22-year-old was brilliantly foiled from point-blank by Zainol.
Warriors continued to threaten and had another opportunity to break the deadlock three minutes after the restart but Fadhil glanced a header narrowly wide off Emmeric Ong’s right-wing cross.
Hafiz Nor teed up Fadhil for a shot on the edge of the box in the 59th minute but the latter could only fire a looping shot which Zharfan gathered comfortably.
The Young Lions were then unlucky not to have taken the lead.
First, Taufik somehow nodded wide off Rusyaidi Salime’s freekick in the 62nd minute before Muhelmy Suhaimi saw his fierce shot from the edge of the area crash off the underside of the bar a minute later.
Chances were few and far between thereafter but it was Razif Onn’s side could have stolen a late winner with two openings in the space of two minutes.
Webb’s cutback found Hafiz Nor in the penalty area but the latter took too long on the ball as his eventual effort was blocked for a corner in the 79th minute.
Shahril found himself in a similar position nine minutes from time but his shot was also deflected over as the two teams had to contend with a point each.
With the draw, Warriors remain in fourth with 21 points while Young Lions stayed in ninth with three points after 12 games played.
Garena Young Lions Head Coach Richard Tardy: “We played with a big heart and were very organised today against a very strong Warriors team.
“I wasn’t too pleased with the first-half performance as we lost the ball too easily. But we talked about it at half-time and we did much better in the second-half. We had our chances today which I feel we should have taken, but I was still happy with the result.
“We gave our best today without some of the injured players, but the likes of (Yeo) Hai Ngee and Zulqarnaen (Suzliman) stepped up which is a good thing. Zharfan (Rohaizad) did very well today; it’s his second clean sheet in a row and I’m sure he will take confidence from this display.”
Warriors FC Head Coach Razif Onn: “To be honest, we didn’t play to expectations especially in the first-half. We allowed Young Lions too much time and space on the ball, and we know we could not afford to do that especially when they have Zulqarnaen who can cause problems down the right.
“We tried to contain them but they were at times too fast. We had good chances of our own in the second-half, but it’s a pity Shahril (Ishak) and Hafiz Nor could not score. If you don’t score, you don’t win games - it’s as simple as that.”
Garena Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Rusyaidi Salime, Illyas Lee, Shahrin Saberin (C) (Amirul Adli 69’), Faizal Roslan, Dhukhilan Jeevamani, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Hafiz Sulaiman (Jordan Chan 73’), Muhelmy Suhaimi, Taufik Suparno (Yeo Hai Ngee 87’), Ikhsan Fandi
Warriors FC: Zainol Gulam (GK), Emmeric Ong, Baihakki Khaizan, Kento Fukuda, Ho Wai Loon, Syaqir Sulaiman (Shaiful Esah 83’), Poh Yi Feng (Firdaus Kasman 46’), Hafiz Nor, Shahril Ishak (C), Jordan Webb, Fadhil Noh (Fazli Jaffar 71’)