Warriors FC returned to winning ways in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League after edging Brunei DPMM 1-0 at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Sunday night.
Ridhuan Muhammad’s second-half strike was enough for the nine-time league champions to snap a two-match winless run in the league as they notched their seventh victory of the season.
Warriors paraded new signing Andrei-Cosmin Ciolacu who spearheaded the attack with skipper Shahril Ishak in support but bottled a first-half penalty as he missed the chance to open his accounts for his new club.
But it was Ciolacu who nearly opened the scoring after two minutes but nodded wide off Emmeric Ong’s cross from the right.
The Wasps would go on to dominate exchanges thereafter with captain Azwan Saleh coming close, firing inches off Zainol Gulam’s left-hand post on three minutes before his attempt flew wide in the 20th minute.
Ciolacu was then denied by Awangku Mu’izzudin at the near post in the 25th minute after being slipped through by Jordan Webb but the hosts were handed an opportunity to take the lead two minutes later.
However, Ciolacu could only send his penalty against the post after Shaiful Esah was adjudged to have been felled by Mu’izzudin in the box.
Zainol came to the rescue of the Warriors just after the half-hour mark, brilliantly denying substitute Shaherazen Said with his legs after the latter was put through on goal by Azwan Ali Rahman.
There was one final chance for DPMM in the first-half but Adi Said’s header across the face of goal was cleared by Kento Fukuda before it could reach an unmarked Azwan Ali Rahman lurking at the far post.
The deadlock was broken eight minutes after the restart with Webb floating a delightful cross from the left to Ridhuan to nod home at the far post and put Warriors in front.
Shaiful could have further extended the lead for the hosts in the 63rd minute but his goalbound freekick was clawed away to safety by Mu’izzudin.
Zainol kept Warriors in the game in the 77th minute as he kept out Adi’s curling shot from a tight angle with his outstretched foot.
Ridhuan could have sealed victory for Warriors six minutes from time but volleyed narrowly over from another Webb left-wing cross.
DPMM then had a penalty shout turned down deep into stoppage time after Fukuda appeared to have handled a cross in the box but the referee turned a deaf ear to all appeals as Warriors hung for an important victory.
This result sees Warriors remain in fourth place on 24 points after 13 games, while DPMM stay eighth with four points in 11 games.
Warriors FC Head Coach Razif Onn: “I’m very much relieved and it was a great win today, especially after coming into this on the back of a defeat to Tampines Rovers and a draw against Garena Young Lions.
“It was a hard-fought game, as DPMM had their chances to score as well.
“I was happy with Andrei-Cosmin Ciolacu’s performance but I thought he could have done more individually. It’s however good to see that he is getting the shots and had a couple of good chances. He needs to settle down before I can have higher expectations of him.”
Brunei DPMM Head Coach Steve Kean: “I don’t think we were unlucky and I don’t think luck had anything to do with this result.
“The players did very well in both halves and I thought we deserved at least a point, if not three. I was delighted with the local players and I cannot fault any of their play. If we continue playing like that, I’m confident we can get a positive result soon.
“Mu’izzudin was excellent today. He came out to collect crosses with confidence and was calm, even making that good save from Shaiful. He can only get better from here.”
Warriors FC: Zainol Gulam (GK), Emmeric Ong, Kento Fukuda, Hafiz Osman (Baihakki Khaizan 87’), Zulfadli Zainal, Shaiful Esah, Firdaus Kasman, Ridhuan Muhammad, Shahril Ishak (C), Jordan Webb, Andrei-Cosmin Ciolacu
Brunei DPMM: Awangku Mu’izzuddin (GK), Haizul Rani, Hanif Hamir, Azwan Saleh (C) (Yura Indera Putera 70’), Azwan Ali Rahman, Daud Gazale (Shahrazen Said 7’), Nurikhawan Othman, Najib Tarif, Maududi Hilmi Kasmi, Adi Said, Vincent Salas