|Posted on October 5, 2019 at 9:10 AM|
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In spite of their unprecedented and gutted withdrawal from the ESPZEN Saturday Champions Cup at the semi-final stage owing to decimated numbers, Hilderinc FC were surprised to find themselves still in hat of the cup run, albeit dropping into the Plate variant of the competition, nonetheless it was clearly not a priority but a means to keep the gears oiled.
While having to put the brakes on their league commitments, though their start to the season has been nothing short of an awful journey so far, the prospect of taking a breather from an unkind opening fixture list, which has seen them play all the “top” sides in succession with depleted and makeshift sides, was a welcomed one, though the Blacks remained improvised still.
Deficient of consistency in lineup and consequentially in formation, the Hilderincs were again experimental rather than a steady ship with familiar crew, as they gave Naithan Reheja and Kriz Karlo a harried debut instead of bedding them in progressively for their first games in the Singapore heat.
With continuous chopping and changing in every game since the tail end of last season, which saw them dramatically drop off the title challenge, the Blacks were unpolished and lacking in synergy as they tried to make something out of the state of affairs they found themselves in.
Despite growing into the game, they soon found themselves behind, much against the run of play; and the manner of the goal would provide a degree of ire considering the opponents were not entirely worthy of the advantage, but were opportunistic with the given gift.
However, the Hilderincs could not be faulted for their endeavour and were highly unfortunate not to have levelled the score before the break when Marc Trotter’s effort was saved by the goalkeeper and Samuel Lalramnghaka’s subsequent follow-up clipped the crossbar.
Feeling unfinished, the Blacks were in a feisty mood at the restart as they looked to translate their willingness into putting on a good contest.
Improved, but still unacquainted, the Hilderincs were constantly looking to find a way through the backline with probing runs, which though industrious, lacked the finishing touch, especially when they found themselves in decent positions in and around the box, but one touch too many would render the chances passed.
Though there were considerable attention from the opponents in the defending third, the Blacks’ backline, along with goalkeeper Christopher Mark produced outstanding reading of the game to collectively nullify the attacks.
Even when veteran and key centreback, Dionisis Kolokotsas, had to be withdrawal through injury, James Ryall was exceptional in his unfamiliar role, alongside Sunny Tharidu, who himself was filling-in in the heart of the backline.
Sanil Khatri had the best chance at the other end when his freekick looked to be sneaking into the top corner, but the goalkeeper pulled off a good save to deny HFC’s number 13 of a fine goal.
But a moment of greenness left the Hilderincs with more work to do when they were a penalty was awarded against them, though there was little to argue with the refeere’s decision.
With time and scoreline against them, the Blacks were finally allotted some luck when Kris Karlo’s effort from distance hoodwinked the keeper, but hit the post, however, youngster Mohd Zaiyani was at hand to sweep the ball into the back of the end to setup a tense end to the contest.
In fact, the Hilderincs thought they had equalised late in the game when a kamikaze-istic defending nearly resulted in an own goal, but the goalkeeper was impressively alert to get his fingertips to keep the stray ball out, and James Ryall was just inches from getting his head to the ensuing corner.
While any defeat, especially in manner unmerited, is hard to take, but putting matters into context and perspective, the Blacks will claim some benefits from the run out as the look ahead to next Saturday’s key fixture against fellow strugglers, Mariners FC, as they finally get an evenly poised tie, but they will certainly hope for some good news should key players finally return to the fold.
ESPZEN Saturday Champions Cup (Plate) Q-Finals
Kamikaze FC 2 : Hilderinc FC 1
Goal: Mohd Zaiyani 71’
MOM: Samuel Lalramnghaka
1. Christopher Mark
2. Naithan Raheja
3. Dionisis Kolokotsas
4. Sunny Tharidu
5. Glenn Sandhu
6. Samuel Lalramnghaka
7. Jon Loh
8. Sanil Khatri
9. Krzysztof “Kriz” Karlo
10. Ian Morris
11. Gabriel Magalhaes
12. Basil Al Barr
13. James Ryall
14. Marc Trotter
15. Nabil Zahrif
16. Mohd Zaiyani
Categories: Match Day