| Fadhil Yunus |
DPMM FC’s lead at the top of the standings has been trimmed to two points following a 3-2 defeat to Warriors FC at Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium last night.
DPMM FC head coach Steve Kean was correct in his assessment during the post-match reaction that they were the better side for the opening 35 minutes and rightly so as they opened the scoring through a spectacular effort from main man Roy O’Donovan in the 23th minute.
Before they gained control of proceedings, there were touches of genius from a locally home-grown player in Azwan Ali demonstrating his quality set-pieces with simplicity and ease.
It did not take long that someone would get the end of a perfectly weighed ball which O’Donovan gleefully accepted with a rasping drive catching the goalkeeper Hassan Sunny totally off guard.
No such problems then but Warriors FC rose forward in numbers and nearly got their reward but goalkeeper Wardun Yussof stood firm to deny a close-range effort.
In what was an unusual incident though not malicious but perhaps worthy of a booking, Suria Prakash committed a needless foul outside the touchline with the ball already gone out of play.
Kean did not spot any defensive inconsistencies bar Warriors’s leveller as Nicholas Velez got the better of Joe Gamble and Abdul Aziz Tamit allowing the striker to apply sufficient connection to beat Yussof on the stroke of half-time.
Things got from bad to worse as a rejuvenated Warriors FC side woke up to a 2-1 lead courtesy of a sublime Kevin McCann’s free-kick with two minutes of the second half barely lapsed.
O’Donovan got the better of his marker but though accumulated enough power did not find the angle to beat Hassan who contently saw the ball bounced off for a corner.
The Irishman was at it again dazzling in dangerous territory after Azwan had rounded a ball to him, but his pass inside the box somehow lacked the presence of a poacher’s boot.
Sensing that the hosts were likely to open up gaps, Warriors FC made a tactical substitution replacing Hafsyar Farkhan for Miroslav Pejic.
DPMM FC fell further behind as Hafiz Rahim delivered a magnificent free-kick into the top corner despite Wardun’s fingertips on the ball. The goal quietened the stadium of which spectators was given free entry on the night.
It was a premature end to Azwan’s night after the player was stretchered off the pitch for an accidental collision in the penalty area. On the other hand, it was time for substitute Shahrazen Said to reignite the hosts starting with a goal.
For all the hard labour both in defence and up top, DPMM FC made their fans believe again as on numerous occasions all season after Shahrazen bundled home his team’s second after Adi Said header had initially brushed against the woodwork.
However the ‘Gegar Gegar’ men could not apply enough pressure and causing enough trouble to Hassan and the defenders as they slumped to a 3-2 defeat and their second successive loss in the third round of the S League.
Meanwhile, Warriors FC head coach Alex Weaver were happy with his side’s showing and getting back into the match despite their opponents making it difficult for them.
“It is a very difficult place to come to and we executed the things we rehearsed in training”, Weaver said.
DPMM FC’s head coach Steve Kean would have wanted to be in a position of being within touching distance of the title but he accepted the defeat admitting that the race for the league’s title is tight again.
He added that the fate of the championship could even go right down the wire on the final game setting a possibility of a last- day title- clinching celebration at either away to Tampines Rovers FC or even quite possibly at the Warriors game.