|Posted on February 29, 2016 at 12:05 AM|
HFC Media File Picture
After last week’s goal avalanche, the Blacks’ pre-season thrust ahead of the new ESPZEN Sunday League season was disrupted by testing exertions on a shoddy pitch which presented their opponents, Royal Phoenix FC, a somewhat commendable bragging rights, albeit through a stolen draw.
Having played a noteworthy role in the Phoenix’s short history since their inception last year, a contest against the Hilderincs, who handed them a testing 11-2 defeat, has been a keenly anticipated event on the calendar of the fledgling side.
With only nine players out of nineteen having featured in last Sunday’s goal glut, the Blacks were still very much in the lower gears in terms of their match fitness.
Taking the opportunity to experiment, and also consequent to lack in the offensive quarter, the Hilderincs shaped up in an untried formation, hoping that the quality within will overwrite all other circumstantial shortcomings.
But it was a bumpy ride from the get go, on an equally hard and bumpy surface, denying the Blacks their usual poise or fluidity.
The Phoenix, eager to pose their improvement since their drubbing, were enthusiastic with the approach, trying to take the game to the Blacks, but the mixture of youth in Adib Alias and Basil Al Barr, along with experience, in Kavin Singh and Denis Lobov, in the heart of the HFC backline, were a prefect spoil against any donkeywork.
Though the proceedings were brought under the measured influence of the Blacks, the surface was a constant adversary, frustrating their movement at every turn, as they toiled more against the pitch than the opponents.
For all the annoyance, it was the Blacks who looked poised for the opener, when Sunny Tharidu struck the crossbar with his shot from distance, with the Phoenix keeper stranded, while Sashikumar Mahathevan’s header from a long Kavin Singh throw in would sail past the target.
Another long throw by Kavin Singh sent Ian Morris through on goal, but the skipper’s attempted chip over the keeper was kept out by the fingertips of the custodian.
The Hilderincs, slapdash in their display at times, but there was nothing remotely to suggest that they were not in complete domination of the game despite the absence of a goal.
However, an almost unskilled and feeble performance from an unassertive referee, would irk the Blacks, as his contentious and sometime bewildering decisions deprived them of opportunities, especially with some fathom offside calls.
Despite the irritation, the Hilderincs finally broke through the rudimentary defence when Basil Al Barr, winning the ball deep in his own half, run the entire length of the pitch to score his first ever goal of the Blacks in a determined show of defiance, to give the Blacks a deserved but long overdue lead.
The second half saw, much to the delight of the Blacks, the return of David Zheng, who spent the last three months on the sidelines with injury, and whose comeback was a welcomed one ahead of the new campaign.
The resumption had the similar pattern to the first, with the Blacks holding possession and the Phoenix trying to profit from hopeful balls launched occasionally towards the HFC half.
So it was understandable that the Hilderincs were wound up when the Phoenix bundled in an equaliser against the run of play, after a mess up following a long hopeful freekick.
The Blacks hit back immediately from the restart through trialist, Jonathon Lim, who almost made the headlines with a well taken shot, which the Phoenix keeper did well to tuck in between his legs.
However, the Phoenix’s lead lasted under three minutes when Parthiban Aruchamy was brought down inside the box as he latched onto a fine through ball from Jeevan.
Allowing no negotiation, a seething Ian Morris, smacked in the penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way.
It could have been three for the Blacks, after Ian Morris sent Maxence de Poulpiquet through but having taken out the keeper, his goal bound attempted was cleared on the line.
Another goal line clearance would deny the Blacks the third yet again, after Parthiban Aruchamy’s header off a corner was headed against the woodwork by a defender on the line.
Like adding fuel to an open fire, the Hilderincs’ exasperation was compounded when a weak and wandering corner was allowed to sneak in for an unmerited leveller, most astonishing, without the Blacks keeper, Suhairi Hassan, not breaking a sweat in the entire game.
While the results were less than pleasing, it was a much needed run out, with the objectives clearly define, though by the Blacks standards, this was not the best of outings by any means.
Hilderinc FC 2 : Royal Phoenix FC 2
Goals: Basil Al Barr, Ian Morris (Pen)
Yellow Card: Maxence de Poulpiquet
Starting Line Up
1. Suhairi Hassan
2. Adib Alias
3. Kavin Singh
4. Denis Lobov
5. Basil Al Barr
6. Sunny Tharidu
7. Rama Witjaksono
8. Maxence de Poulpiquet
9. Sashikumar Mahathevan
10. Ian Morris
11. Tom Cargill
12. Azman Azmi
13. Parthiban Aruchamy
14. Bayu Tanmizi
15. David Zheng
16. Nicholas Ledenmark
17. Jeevan T Kannu
18. Chan Kian Quan
19. Jonathon Lim