| Fadhil Yunus |
DPMM FC enjoyed a winning start under the guidance of newly appointed head coach Adrian Pennock with a 1-0 victory over Home United FC in their opening fixture of the AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) at the Bishan Stadium in Singapore yesterday.
The club’s new foreign import Andrei Varankou opened his account in the 22nd minute in his first competitive appearance for the club while fellow debutant Charlie Clough had a goal ruled out for offside in the second half.
The contributions of local striker Abdul Azizi Rahman has also been not left unnoticed as he worked the channels well and stretched the Home United defence.
Meanwhile, the Protectors missed the services of influential midfielder Song Ui-young who has repeatedly proven to be one of the important players for the club.
The Belarussian showed his qualities when he brilliantly turned past his marker Faizal Roslan before sending a ball into the box, which Abdul Azizi could not get at the end of.
The Gegar Gegar men looked to stamp their authority early on as Hendra Azam reacted to a loose ball after a header was half-heartedly cleared which took a deflection for a corner. From the ensuing set-piece, Charlie Clough was left all alone in the box and headed wide Hendra’s corner.
Home United forward Shahril Ishak produced a lovely turn and sets himself up for a shot in the box but flashed wide much to the relief of the DPMM FC defence and goalkeeper Wardun Yussof.
Shahrazen Said proved a constant thorn to a group of Home United players before slipping a pass to Abdul Azizi who timed his run to perfection. However, the forward scuffed his shot wide having gotten himself into a good position with only goalkeeper Nazri Sabri in his radar.
The home defence were all over the place as Shahrazen’s effort from a central position took a deflection after Abdul Azizi laid a short pass.
DPMM FC seemed to be on top of aerial battles from a set-piece with Blake Ricciuto emerging with a header this time with only the direction missing.
The visitors took the lead through a free header from new foreign import Andrei Varankou.
Faritz Hameed appeared to have wrestled Abdul Azizi to the ground as Hendra Azam spotted the on-rushing Shahrazen who delivered a pinpoint cross in the area. Varankow was the recipient of the assist as he directed the ball with sheer precision.
Though the goalkeeper appeared to be unperturbed, Clough got closer with his original header as DPMM FC uncovered yet more defensive frailties from a set-piece.
Adam Swandi saw his shot fly into the stands after he was met with an opportunity, with Shahril Ishak and Isaka Cernak instrumental in the sequence of moves with their link-up play.
The Protectors looked to get back into the game as Home United captain Izzdin Shafiq struck an effort straight to Charlie Clough before a Faizal’s snapshot ended wide on the rebound.
It was a pleasant sight to see Clough accompanying his defensive duties with mazy dribbling, powering through defences. The central defender connected Hendra’s free-kick delivery with a precise header but his and the rest of the team’s joy were short-lived as the goal was flagged off for offside.
Faritz capitalised on a misplaced pass from a DPMM FC player to run into space and his ball into the box was cleared by Yura Indera Putera and to the relief of the defender, such as the pace of the ball, he did not turn it into goal.
DPMM FC were forced to make an instant double change after Najib Tarif appeared to have picked up an injury. When the stretcher volunteers were summoned, Shahrazen was preparing to make way for Azwan Salleh.
Abdul Azizi brilliantly created space and played a pass wide to Andrei but the goal-scorer could not return the favour with Nazri keeping hold of the miscued cutback.
DPMM FC substitute Abdul Mu’iz attempted an audacious lob after catching Nazri off his line but it was well off the mark.
The experienced visiting goalkeeper Wardun quickly moved his lines and sorted incoming danger after Izzdin hoisted a long ball for substitute Hafiz Nor.
Isaka tried to slip in a pass to substitute Nur Hizami but the rock solid Clough stopped the ball from reaching him with a sliding tackle.
The hosts passed up an opportunity to snatch a point in the 84th minute after an unmarked Isaka was not able to guide the ball home after latching onto a teasing cross from Hafiz.