Football: Pejic's penalty ends Rams' run

Football: Pejic's penalty ends Rams' run
WINNING STRIKE: Striker Miroslav Pejic (in blue, right) scoring the penalty for Warriors FC against Woodlands Wellington last night.

WARRIORS FC 1 (Miroslav Pejic 34-pen)

WOODLANDS WELLINGTON 0

Croatian hotshot Miroslav Pejic was on target again for Warriors FC, scoring the only goal to end Woodlands Wellington's unbeaten Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League run at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium last night.

Pejic's coolly-taken penalty on 34 minutes took his goal tally to six, making him the S.League's joint-top scorer with Tampines Rovers' Miljan Mrdakovic.

However, the Rams did not surrender their five-match unbeaten run without a fight as they forced goalkeeper Neezam Aziz into making three saves late in the game.

Despite the tense end, Warriors coach Alex Weaver was pleased with the win, dedicating it to chairman Lam Shiu Tong, who retires today.

"We had a couple of chances in the second half, but we were fantastic in the first half," said the ex-Hougang United coach.

"It's just a shame we couldn't really capitalise on that and get a second goal that would have made it a little less tense at the end.

"We knew they would come out at us in the second half, so we made sure that everybody knew the status of the game and we were intelligent.

"We didn't want to come out with all guns blazing in the second half because we knew what would happen."

Warriors certainly had the brighter start, having a point-blank effort crash off the underside of the crossbar and a disallowed Thomas Beattie goal for offiside inside the first 25 minutes.

PENALTY

The hosts' relentless pressure eventually paid off in the 33rd minute when Andy Ahmad handled the ball inside the box. Despite the protests of the Woodlands players, referee Mohd Irwan Saian pointed to the spot before Pejic stepped up to score a minute later.

The tide turned in the second half as the Rams tried to preserve their unbeaten status.

Despite a late siege and the best efforts of South Korean duo Moon Soon Ho and Chang Jo Yoon, Woodlands simply could not find a way past Neezam. Coach Darren Stewart accepted the blame for the Rams defeat.

"We were just too sluggish in the first half and I take responsibility for that," said the Australian.

"I overtrained the boys a bit too hard to get us up for the game. I can't fault any of the lads - the boys have heavy legs and that's because of me. "It was a fair result because they were the better team."

The result took Warriors into second place on 13 points, two behind league leaders Tampines Rovers, who play Hougang tomorrow.

In yesterday's other match, Geylang International's revival under Jorg Steinebrunner continued with a 3-0 win over Harimau Muda B at Pasir Gudang Stadium.

TNP Man of the Match: Marin Vidosevic (Warriors)

gregloo@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 4 in The New Paper.

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