Story by REDintern Roshan Thomas. Photos by REDintern Jordan Lim.
PSOEB Hockey Pitch, Wednesday, March 13, 2019 — St. Andrew’s Secondary School (SAS) ground out a 1-0 victory over Sengkang Secondary School (SKS) to top their second-round group stage.
With this result, SAS improves to a 1-0-1 win-draw-loss record, while SKS drops to one of 1-1-0. Both sides have booked a berth in the semi-finals.
SAS fullback Jonathan Stewart (SAS #8) said: “In previous matches, our defensive mistakes had cost us badly. So for this match I’m really proud that we kept a tight, solid defensive line, which was key for us to survive their attacks and hold on for victory.”
It was SKS who threatened first, as Syazwi Zufayri Bin Yusri (SKS #17) and Supaya Saran Raj (SKS #10) combined on a fast-break to force the SAS goalkeeper into making a close-range save.
Meanwhile, SAS pressed high up the pitch in search of an opener, and this allowed them to win a succession of penalty corners.
Harek Singh Mehta (SAS #12) came especially close to scoring from a corner as he fired a sweep-shot just wide of the goal-frame.
As time ticked on, both sides settled into their own attacking strategies, with SAS holding possession in the final third of the pitch, while SKS relied on counter-attacks.
Yet, it was the effort of SAS which eventually paid off as they drew first blood just past the 15th-minute mark.
Joshua Eng (SAS #9) had a slap-shot saved by the SKS goalkeeper, yet Mervylen s/o Ramesh (SAS #11) was on hand to slot the rebound under the goalie and into the net.
This strike caught SKS off-guard, and they were unable to muster a response to penetrate the SAS defense, and the half closed out at 1-0.
As the second-half resumed, instead of sitting on their lead, SAS came charging forward, seeking that vital second goal to seal their victory for good.
Jonathan Tan (SAS #18) nearly did just that, as he jinked and slalomed his way past three defenders, before Julian Chung (SKS #27) blocked his shot.
Facing the SAS onslaught, SKS needed the calm Dhinagran Nair (SKS #2) to steady the ship and build up attacks with his patient passing strategy.
In spite of this, the SAS guard refused to buckle, and led by Nathan Devavaram Theodore (SAS #20), they worked tirelessly to pull out last-ditch tackles.
Remarkably, Nathan even showed glimpses of attacking prowess too, as he slammed a tomahawk shot just over the crossbar from a penalty corner.
As the the full-time whistle loomed nearer, the desperation for an equalizer grew among the SKS players as they poured numbers forward in attack.
SKS won a stream of free-hits around the “D” area, and these presented their best opportunities for drawing level.
Dhinagran and Akmal Rifqi B Kamal Rudin (SKS #7) especially stepped up, as they fired a continuous barrage of shots from long-range.
These efforts were just barely blocked by the lunging sticks of the frantic SAS defenders.
And this battle reached its climax in the final minute, as Raj exposed a gap in the opposing defense, and arrowed a powerful sweep-shot goal-wards.
However, it was not to be a heroic ending for SKS as the SAS custodian dived brilliantly to save the ball and keep his team’s lead intact.
This sealed an upset 1-0 victory for the brave SAS youths over an SKS side that by no means went down without a fight.
Raj, captain of SKS revealed this in hindsight: “Unfortunately, we underestimated SAS based on their previous results, and were thus too relaxed. But from now we will treat each game like a final and come back to try fighting harder than ever to try and clinch the title.”
Both SKS and SAS will now play in semi-final fixtures with dates and venues to be announced.
SKS vs SAS
Mervylen s/o Ramesh (SAS #11) — 1 goal
A Surya (SKS #6), Supaya Saran Raj (SKS #10), Dhinagaran Nair (SKS #2), Akmal Rifqi B Kamal Rudin (SKS #7), Daing Fahimin Nuqman Bin Daing Hashim (SKS #9), Elbert Rae Sotayco Baltazar (SKS #13), Gutierrez Raphael Andre Manipis (SKS #28), Haw Jia Jun Bryan (SKS #24), Julian Chung (SKS #27), Lim Jing Feng (SKS #36), Lim You Meng Darrel (SKS #3), Muhammad Afif Bin Sahernizam (SKS #15), Muhammad Azhar B Johar (SKS #1), Muhammad Danish Bin Mohd Kadir (SKS #29), Muhammad Farhan B Junid (SKS #16), Muhammad Nur Muhaimin Bin Mohammad Sidiq (SKS #35), Ozan Ghani Bin Noh (SKS #20), Syazwi Zufayri Bin Yusri (SKS #17), Syed Ijaz Bin Syed Mirsham (SKS #8), Toh Kok Ming (SKS #11)
Tan Han Wen Jackson (SAS #1), Muhammad Nasrullah B (SAS #2), Ira Cheong (SAS #3), Hyden Chua Kumaran (SAS #4), Hizrul Iman B Hanaffi B Omar (SAS #5), M Dinesh s/o Murugavel (SAS #6), Darius Loh (SAS #7), Jonathan Stewart (SAS #8), Joshua Eng (SAS #9), Kyan Lim (SAS #10), Mervylen s/o Ramesh (SAS #11), Harek Singh Mehta (SAS #12), Muhammad Shah Danial B (SAS #13), Ng Zheng Kai (SAS #14), Muhammad Ali Danial (SAS #15), Kavinesh s/o Murugan (SAS #16), Tsumura Kenzo Sean (SAS #17), Johnathan Tan (SAS #18), Nathan Devavaram Theodore (SAS #20), Keng Kwan You (SAS #21)
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