Garena Young Lions put on a fine display to earn a deserved point after a 0-0 draw against nine-time league champions Warriors FC in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League match at Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday.
There were no lack of goal scoring opportunities though, as it took a combination of heroics from both goalkeepers and the teams to deny each other from getting all three points.
Young Lions captain Shahrin Saberin was reinstated to the starting line-up after missing the game against Balestier Khalsa FC last week due to suspension.
Goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad was called into action in the seventh minute when he prevented Baihakki Khaizan from scoring a header off Shahril Ishak’s freekick.
Richard Tardy’s young charges created their first chance of note after 25 minutes with Ikhsan Fandi’s low shot, but it was saved by Warriors custodian Zainol Gulam.
Zharfan denied an unmarked Fadhil Noh from putting Warriors FC ahead off Jordan Webb’s cutback on the half-hour mark, and then went on to tip another Baihakki header over with four minutes remaining in the first half.
Zharfan was at it again moments later, pushing Syaqir Sulaiman’s acrobatic effort onto the bar to keep his side in the game.
Taufik Suparno came close to netting the opener in the 42nd minute after meeting Ikhsan Fandi’s cross, but the 22-year-old was foiled from point-blank range by Zainol.
After the break, Hafiz Nor teed up Fadhil for a shot on the edge of the box in the 59th minute but the latter could only fire a looping shot which Zharfan gathered comfortably.
The Young Lions could have taken the lead in the 62nd minute but Taufik nodded wide off Rusyaidi Salime’s freekick. Muhelmy Suhaimi then had a chance to score a minute later, but his fierce shot from the edge of the area crashed off the underside of the bar to safety.
Warriors FC could have stolen a late winner with two openings in quick succession. Webb’s cutback found Hafiz Nor in the penalty area, but the latter took too long on the ball as his eventual effort was blocked for a corner in the 79th minute.
Shahril found himself in a similar position two minutes later, but his shot was also deflected over as the two teams settled for a point each.
After the game, Garena Young Lions Head Coach Richard Tardy said: “We played with a [lot of] heart and were very organised today against a very strong Warriors team.
“I wasn’t too pleased with the first-half performance as we lost the ball too easily. But we talked about it at half-time and we did much better in the second half. We had our chances today which I feel we should have taken, but I was still happy with the result.
“We gave our best today without some of the injured players, but the likes of (Yeo) Hai Ngee and Zulqarnaen (Suzliman) stepped up which is a good thing. Zharfan (Rohaizad) did very well today; it’s his second clean sheet in a row and I’m sure he will take confidence from this display.”
Garena Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Rusyaidi Salime, Illyas Lee, Shahrin Saberin (C) (Amirul Adli 69’), Faizal Roslan, Dhukhilan Jeevamani, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Hafiz Sulaiman (Jordan Chan 73’), Muhelmy Suhaimi, Taufik Suparno (Yeo Hai Ngee 87’), Ikhsan Fandi