The Garena Young Lions edged Warriors FC 1-0 at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Saturday night to earn their first victory of the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League season.
After a goalless first half, Haiqal Pashia’s 63rd-minute strike was enough for the developmental side to claim their first three points of the campaign.
It was Warriors who were largely on top in the opening 45 minutes with the front two of Hafiz Nor and Andrei-Cosmin Ciolacu causing a couple of problems for the Young Lions defence.
The hosts could have gone ahead on 14 minutes when Hafiz Osman rose highest to connect with Fazli Jaffar’s corner, but his header was tipped over the bar by Zharfan Rohaizad.
Zharfan was then called into action again eight minutes later as he went down low to push Ciolacu’s grounder away to safety.
Ciolacu then curled a 25-yard freekick straight at Zharfan on 28 minutes, but that was the closest either team came to scoring as the remainder of the first half petered out.
Warriors FC nearly got their noses in front in the 52nd minute but Fazli could only poke straight at an onrushing Zharfan after he was slipped through by Hafiz Nor.
The nine-time league champions were made to rue those earlier misses as Young Lions broke the deadlock three minutes after the hour mark.
Breaking free down the right, Taufik Suparno crossed for an unmarked Haiqal to send a header into Zainol Gulam’s bottom right corner for the lead.
The opener sparked Warriors into life as they pushed forward in search of the equaliser.
Fazli thumped over off a Ridhuan Muhammad right-wing cross in the 73rd minute before the former was denied again by Zharfan three minutes later.
Warriors head coach Razif Onn reacted by bringing on the likes of skipper Shahril Ishak and Fadhil Noh, with the latter firing just over in the 78th minute.
Young Lions substitute Ammirul Emmran then nearly put into his own net seven minutes from time but was spared the blushes as Zharfan came to the rescue by clawing the ball away in time.
It was just not Warriors’ night on 85 minutes when captain on the night Jordan Webb was sent through on goal, only to see his shot beat Zharfan but not the crossbar.
The full-time whistle went shortly after as Young Lions hung on for a morale-boosting victory.
Garena Young Lions Head Coach Vincent Subramaniam said: “We are all seasoned coaches, we handle wins and defeats but it means much more to the boys who played today. They really wanted to get something out of the game. The goal was against the run of play but what’s most important was that we managed to score and win the game today.
“It was difficult for us and to come away with a win might be a surprise to many, but for us we have been waiting for so long. It was a relief – you could see the boys just collapsed at the final whistle, that’s how much relief they felt.
“Our one vs one defending and passing was much better today. All in all, it was a good result for us.”
Garena Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK, C), Rusyaidi Salime, Amirul Adli, Faizal Roslan, Syahrul Sazali, Armin Maier, Hami Syahin, Hafiz Sulaiman (Ammirul Emmran 46’), Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Yeo Hai Ngee 88’), Haiqal Pashia, Taufik Suparno (Shameer Aziq 69’)