|Posted on June 3, 2018 at 12:05 AM|
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Hilderinc FC’s resumption of ESPZEN Saturday League duties after almost a month recess proved to be a sternest of character when took on Hibernians Athletic in a clash of the early pace setters in Division 3.
During the absence of competitive engagement, the Blacks, who began the season with two wins out of two, saw their poise on the top of table altered by Super Aviators and Hibs, who had both won their games played, leaving the Hilderincs in third, albeit which games in hand of their challengers.
However, any plans to return to the top of the pile took a beating even before the Blacks took to the pitch when the already less than ideal numbers were further reduced, leaving the side with barely enough to efficiently compete against the Hibernians on their own turf at the PSA Club.
While the ever optimistic Blacks were ready to take the fight to their host, the eleventh hour availability of Liao Jinai and Michael Shankar proved immensely god-sent in what would turn out to be one of their most soul-attenuating encounters.
Already sweating on the fitness of Cristian Peligros and Kumaresan Maniam, both suffering with trauma injuries, and a less than match ready Guilherme Imai, the latter two were forced into earlier than planned action after the Hilderincs kicked-off with ten players on a sweltering afternoon as they found no favours with the referee who was keen to get the proceeding going on the dot.
If starting the game with a man less and a hodgepodge lineup, with players thrown to make a semblance of a formation was a feat enough, the heavy and soggy pitch, which took a beating after two nights of torrential squall, almost instantly shattered the Hilderincs’ whatever enthusiasm that remained.
It was a rude awakening for the Blacks who were feeling the full effects of their reintroduction to a natural grass pitch in Singapore after years of playing on artificial turf, and it was the least pleasurable experience to be said.
However, despite all the discomfort and riding out the early attention, the Hilderincs stunned the Hibernians by taking the lead after Ke Yong Xiang put Cristian Peligros through on goal, and with hitman in his element, made no mistake with his finish to continue his deadly form.
Though never really settled with the pitch, the Blacks came close to extending their lead, but the Spanish forward was unable to keep his attempt down after leaving the entire Hibs backline on his trail.
Putting on an absolute show, the Hilderincs backline, though constantly tested by the Hibs’ raids, were in superb form, with Dionisis Kolokotsas and Nicholas Ledenmark performing heroics in demanding circumstances, while Sunny Tharidu, converted to makeshift keeper, was at this vigilant best.
It was then that the Blacks felt hard done when Hibs drew level with a preventable shot that found the back of the net.
Nonetheless, it was justifiably fair that both teams headed into the break on par as the conditions equally effected the sides from playing anything more than scrappy and unattractive football.
The restart proved to be an even more daunting task as the Blacks’ limitations in resources was critically tested, and while unnecessary on both occasions, inattentiveness and carelessness left the Hilderincs trailing 3-1 with no prayer for salvation.
With players, despite their brave attempts to fight to the tilt, were withdrawn because of injury or sheer exhaustion without adequately rested replacements, leaving the Hilderincs taking an almost suicidal last stand against the Hibernians who were smelling blood at this point.
As a last throw of the dice, and with less than 15 minutes remaining on the clock, the Hilderincs brought on Ian Morris and Cristian Peligros, both who were in near crumple due to fatigue.
But within minutes of their re-entry, the duo was in the heart of things to spark an unlikely revival.
Receiving the ball from Guilherme Imai, Ian Morris skipped past two before sending Cristian Peligros through on rampage towards the Hibs goal; and with the skipper waiting for a cut-back, the forward was upended, winning a penalty, which he dispatched with calm.
Finding a second wind, the Blacks threw themselves at Hibs and were unfortunate not to claim the leveler after Guilherme was adjudged to have been offside after been found by Cristian.
There was, however, no denying the Spaniard his second hat-trick in as many league games when he marauded through on goal before slotting in the equaliser after rounding the keeper, leaving the pitch again, done in for the day.
With barely minutes remaining, all the Blacks’ bravery nearly came to naught when the Hibernians broke free on goal, but saw their attempt ricochet off the post, luck the Hilderincs perhaps earned for their doggedness.
Seeking a statement of intent before the game, the Blacks, having shown immense spirit in the most of difficult circumstances will look forward to press their claims in the Division once they welcome back the majority of the Hilderincs the next time they play a league fixture, till then they will speak of the heroics of this game.
Hibernians Athletic 3 : Hilderinc FC 3
Goals: Cristian Peligros (3)
MOM: Cristian Peligros
Yellow Cards: Nicholas Ledenmark, Nabil Zahrif
1. Sunny Tharidu
2. Parthiban Aruchamy
3. Kavin Singh
4. Nicholas Ledenmark
5. Dionisis Kolokotsas
6. Nabil Zahrif
7. Ke Yong Xiang
8. Kumaresan Maniam
9. Cristian Peligros
10. Ian Morris
11. Guilherme Imai
12. Liao Jincai “JC”
13. Glenn Sandhu
14. Jon Loh
15. Michael Shanker
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