Albirex and Home Utd will meet each other 3 times in the space of 12 days starting today. Probably the 2 teams will be sick of seeing the sight of each other after the 3 matches, but after tonight’s match, supporters from both teams will relish every match the 2 teams play.
The game was an exciting match with end to end stuff as Albirex dominated the 1st half while Home Utd was the stronger in the 2nd half.
The White Swans was still missing top scorer Tsubasa Sano as he served his second of his 2 game suspension for a red card. Home Utd surprised fans with the omission of French full back Sirina Camara who was later reported to be injured. Despite missing these key players, both teams put out their strongest team to seek a win.
While some of the spectators were still taking their seats, Albirex left full back, Naofumi Tanaka, swung in a shot from the left wing which deceived everyone including National Team custodian Hassan Sunny in the 4th minute. 1 Nil, Albirex took an early lead.
The White Swans continued to dominate proceedings in the first half but were profligate in front of goals. Sakamoto, Nagasaki and Motoda had good chances, but were wasteful with their shots.
Home Utd came out firing in the 2nd half in search of an equalizer. However, they were continually denied by the brilliance of Nozawa, the White Swans goalkeeper. National Team winger, Faris Ramli thought he had a goal when he stole in at the far post to head the ball in the 50th minute. Nozawa came out from nowhere to parry the goal-bound shot over the crossbar.
Sensing that the White Swans were tiring as they just return from a trip to Brunei on Sunday, the Protectors piled more pressure on the Albirex defence. Their persistence was finally rewarded when a loop shot from prodigy Adam Swandi evaded the entire Albirex defence and bounced into goal in the 72nd minute.
1-1 game on.
Home Utd was desperate to win the game as they needed to reduce the gap between them and Albirex in the table to maintain their title challenge. Albirex was also anxious to beat Home Utd as the Protectors is the only team they have not beaten in the league. In the 78th minute, Kento Nagasaki had a good chance to execute his trademark freekick but Hassan Sunny was equal to the task as he made a flying save to deny Kento.
At the other end, Nozawa was colossal in Albirex defence and Home Utd could not penetrate this impregnable wall. When Nozawa was finally beaten in the 90th minute, the upright came to Albirex rescue with Faris Ramli’s shot in the 90th minute.
1-1 full time.
With this draw, Albirex equals its point totals of 50 for last season, and maintains its gap with Home Utd at 16 points, although Home Utd has 4 games in hand.
The fans will be hoping to see a repeat of this exhilarating game when the 2 teams meet again in the 2 legs of the RHB Singapore Cup Semi Finals next week.