By Kenneth Tan/Red Sports

St Andrew's Junior College, Tuesday, April 6, 2010 - Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) edged past National Junior College (NJC) 1-0 in a bottom-of-the-table Group D clash to earn their first three points in this year's A Division Football Championship.

It was an evenly matched first half with both sides fighting hard in midfield to win the ball and create goalscoring opportunities of their own.

NJC were the first to threaten on 15 minutes as midfielder Keith Chnioh fired a shot from outside the box wide of the right-hand post.

Three minutes later, midfielder Rocco Hu swivelled past one defender before firing a shot from range which was saved by HCI goalie Benjamin Chua.

HCI slowly settled into the game midway through the first half and threatened the NJC goal on a few occasions.

On 20 minutes, Winger Zachary Lim worked his way down the right flank before crossing into the box for Julian Lim who fired his shot over the bar.

16 minutes later, they took the lead.

Julian Lim pushed the ball past his marker on the left flank and into the box. The goalscoring opportunity look to have faded for Julian as an NJC defender came closing in, but he managed to surge past him and nick a touch past the onrushing NJC custodian Daniel Zheng, slotting the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal.

NJC had opportunities to come back before half-time but wasted both of them.

Winger Cris Le Hung Anh controlled the ball after a long pass from midfield before getting past his marker, but his shot from an acute angle was well saved by Benjamin.

Keith Chnioh earned a free kick from 30 metres from goal before being brought down, but his resulting free kick was deflected off the wall.

HCI went on the search for their second goal after the restart, but failed to trouble NJC's substitute goalkeeper Muhammad Zulhilmi (#21) on several occasions.

On 43 minutes, a cross from full back Alvin Ong created an opening for midfielder Lee Jun Yi, but the latter's effort went just wide of the right-hand post.

14 minutes later, winger Lim Jie Rong's attempt from a free kick outside the box then sailed just over the top right corner of the goal, before substitute Oliver Yiu curled another effort wide of the right-hand post after cutting in from the right flank on 71 minutes.

Their wastefulness in goal could have cost them as NJC came back strongly in the closing stages of the match, but HCI goalkeeper Benjamin Chua stood firm to repel what came at him.

On 75 minutes, NJC midfielder Cao Luu Quang dribbled past two defenders before firing a shot outside the box, but his effort was well saved by Benjamin.

In the last minute of play, NJC striker Marcus Wee squeezed his way down the left flank before crossing into the box for an unmarked Nguyen Qui Hieu but his effort was tipped round the post by Benjamin.

The resulting corner saw the last piece of the action as Marcus Wee headed the ball wide of the post.

The result meant HCI maintained a mathematical chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals with three points from three games played and level on points with third-placed Anderson Junior College (AJC) while Innova Junior College (IJC) currently hold the crucial second position with six points from two games.

"I am happy with the result," commented HCI captain Benjamin Chua on securing the team's first win in this year's tournament. "Although we did not play as well as our previous game (a narrow loss to SAJC), I felt we deserved the victory."

On his team's being mathematically still in the hunt for the quarter finals, he remained positive. "We will do our job (this Fri against AJC) and hopefully the other results do us a favour," he said.

Meanwhile NJC finished their campaign last in Group D after suffering losses in all four matches played.

"I felt we played well overall, but a few individual mistakes let us down," commented NJC captain Joel Ng when asked to summarize his team's campaign this year.

"It was against SAJC," he said when quizzed about the hardest encounter they faced in Group D. "However I felt we played our best in that game and had a few opportunities which we missed.”

"Most importantly I feel the brotherhood and team spirit for us is there throughout," he added.

The next Group D fixtures scheduled on Friday, April 9th, see HCI take on AJC in a must-win clash at 3pm while IJC take on St Andrew’s Junior College (SAJC) in a top-of-the-table clash at 4.45pm.

Both games will be played at SAJC.

HCI lineup
Benjamin Chua Ming Kai (#1, GK, captain), Daniel Lim Hua Siang (#3), Alvin Ong Wei Sheng (#4), Lim Jie Rong (#7), Zachary Lim Shi Jie (#8), Chua Kai Wen (#9), Chong Xian Jie (#10),Lee Jun Yi (#14), Julian Lim (#18), Dennis Woo Kai Mun (#22), Ng Wei Lun (#24)

NJC lineup
Daniel Zheng Zhaohui (#1, GK), Josias Goh Jian Kai (#3), Joel Ng Wei Xuan (#5, captain), Rocco Hu Juan Lei (#6), Cris Le Hung Anh (#7), Vu Tuan Nghia (#8), Nguyen Qui Hieu (#9), Cao Luu Quang (#10), John Tan Yi Jie (#11), Marcus Wee Rui Zheng (#13), Keith Chnioh Sing Yuan (#17).

Go to the SCHOOLS FIXTURES & RESULTS page for more information.