The Garena Young Lions suffered a narrow 4-3 defeat against Warriors FC in the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Saturday night, after having taken the lead against the nine-time S.League champions.
The Young Lions had the opportunity to score in the 10th minute when Taufik Suparno pounced on a weak header from Syaqir Sulaiman, only to fire straight at Basil Chan.
Against their much more experienced opponents, the Young Lions continued to hold their own and came close to breaking the deadlock again on 28 minutes.
A backheel from Muhelmy Suhaimi found Rusyaidi Salime and the right-back launched a shot at goal from 20 yards out, but Basil Chan was alert to the danger and made a comfortable save.
Young Lions’ goalkeeper Fashah Iskandar then brilliantly saved a close-range shot from Shahril Ishak as the Warriors made a counter-attack a minute later.
After the break, Warriors’ Joel Tshibamba was brought on for Syaqir in the second half and gave the Warriors the lead two minutes in as the Dutch-Congolese striker’s effort took a heavy deflection before trickling into goal.
However, poor defending by Warriors allowed an unmarked Muhaimin Suhaimi to blast home at the far post for the equaliser four minutes later.
The Young Lions took the lead for the first time in the game in the 64th minute when Jordan Chan was brought down by Baihakki Khaizan in the 18-yard box, and Taufik stepped up to coolly slot his spot-kick past Basil Chan.
The Young Lions then increased their lead 14 minutes later when Muhaimin turned provider, with his cross finding Taufik at the far post and the 22-year-old making no mistake from six yards out.
It looked like the Young Lions were about to pull off an improbable victory.
Warriors however made their experience count and came back strongly in the 82nd minute when Shahril pounced on a loose ball from a corner before slotting home from close range to pull a goal back for the hosts.
Webb then drew the hosts level when he sent his spot-kick past Fashah after Shahril was adjudged to have been brought down in the box to equalise. Tshibamba then completed the comeback by nodding home the winner deep into stoppage time to end the match.
After the match, Garena Young Lions Head Coach V. Selvaraj said: “I’m glad that my boys were put under tremendous pressure in the last 10 minutes, because they needed to learn to cope with this kind of pressure to survive in big tournaments.
“At 3-1 up, we were very confident but what we lacked was aerial quality because when Warriors started hitting long balls into the final third, we were losing challenges in the air defensively.
“I can say this was our best performance so far because we executed the gameplan perfectly, found the net three times after not scoring for so long and we created a host of chances.”
Garena Young Lions: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Rusyaidi Salime, Amirul Adli, Shahrin Saberin (C), Ammirul Emmran, Syahrul Sazali, Muhaimin Suhaimi (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 81’), Muhelmy Suhaimi (Faizal Roslan 76’), Hami Syahin, Jordan Chan (Haiqal Pashia 71’), Taufik Suparno