|Posted on September 10, 2017 at 3:10 AM|
It was an inspiring start to life in the ESPZEN Saturday League Division 3 for Hilderinc FC as they came up tops against Pacifire FC in an absorbing tie.
The fortunes of the two sides leading up to season opener could not have been more contrasting as the Hilderincs, having been relegated for the first time in their 17 year history, were paired against a team that won promotion as Division 4 champions just two weeks ago, and it was no surprise that the pre-match mood was one of overt buoyancy from Pacifire, but quiet confidence from the Blacks on the other end of spectrum.
The Hilderincs, making four changes from the side that ran riot during last weekend’s pre-season friendly, took a measured approach to the game, much in anticipation that the younger side will attempt to run at them at every turn, and indeed they were proven right as Pacifire wasted little time with their endeavour going forward.
However, the Blacks were equally quick to read the pattern of play, and responded aptly in nullifying the threat posed, as the exceptional backline, led by veterans, Denis Lobov and Dionsis Kolokotsas, along with Glenn Sandhu and Goh Heng Kiat proved that it takes more than just brute speed to play the game.
After the opening five minutes of Pacifire attention, the Hilderincs turned the tide toward their favour as Jon Loh and Adid Alias began pulling the strings.
And with the incomparable livewire, Hoonki Song, a constant nuisance with his tricky, it was no surprise that he would like the foul that would open the account for the Blacks.
Though in the infringement was too fall to pose any threat to the Pacifire goalkeeper, Jon Loh’s smart freekick was turned in brilliantly by Stepan Lobov for the lead inside ten minutes.
With the Hilderincs not sitting on their laurels, the soon doubled their advantages two minutes later when Ian Morris’ pinpoint corner was met with a thumping header by Stepan Lobov for this quick brace.
He could have made it a hat-trick of headers inside three minutes when he smacked another Ian Morris corner, but was unfortunate to miss the target by inches.
Though shell-shocked by the Blacks’ blitz, the Pacifires rallied themselves and attempted to get right back in the game.
And after hitting the post, they halved the deficit through a much contested penalty, though the video replays proved that the referee had made the right decision.
While the Hilderincs managed to remove much of the sting from the opponents, they had Lim Yong Kiat to thank for as he kept their lead in tact going into the break with a couple of alert saves.
Though the Blacks were in relative comfort with their impressive collective display, there was still a slight sense of apprehension, carried forward from last season when they had surrendered many games after taking the lead; but after a refocus and reorganisation with fresh legs brought in, the Hilderincs, with shackles of the past removed, looked like nonpareil.
Having Sunny Tharidu enforcing superbly in front of the backline, Stepan Lobov, Edrogan Albay and Raihan Hamzah, with the influence of Hoonki Song and Adib Alias were freed to dominate the proceedings, leaving the frustrated Pacifires to accumulate yellow cards rather than shots at Yong Kiat, who had a largely unemployed second half.
With the Pacifire hearts deflated by constant harassment from the Hilderincs, the Blacks ended any remaining fight with their third goal.
And it could not have better scripted when birthday boy, Erdogan Albay, chasing down a weak goal kick, finished with aplomb to cap his special day with an equally special goal.
It was in the end, a consummate display from the Hilderincs, who not only had to contest with a worthy opponent, but mostly against themselves, having to dig deep within to exorcise the demons of the past which had plagued them for almost two years now.
Though the joy of having won their first opening league game in three seasons remains, the Hilderincs will plant their feet firmly on the ground as they await their next challenge in what looks like a competitive division, but they certainly have done themselves a huge favour with this remarkable team performance.
Pacifire FC 1 Hilderinc FC 3
Goals: Stepan Lobov (2), Erdogan Albay
MOM: Stepan Lobov
Yellow Cards: Sunny Tharidu
1. Lim Yong Kiat
2. Glenn Sandhu
3. Denis Lobov
4. Dionisis Kolokotsas
5. Goh Heng Kiat
6. Jon Loh
7. Adib Alias
8. Omar Mahnin
9. Stepan Lobov
10. Ian Morris
11. Hoonki Song
12. Gopal Peethamabaran
13. Nicholas Ledenmark
14. Sunny Tharidu
15. Edrogan Albay
16. Mike De Bear
17. Raihan Hamzah
18. Mohd Fazuli
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Categories: Match Day