A controversial goal proved the turning point at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday evening as Albirex Niigata (S) claimed a 3-1 win over Warriors FC in the S.League.
The Warriors had gotten off to a dream start as they took the lead after just four minutes; Nicolas Velez latching onto a Kevin McCann pass and steadying before clinically firing past Kenjiro Ogino.
But, in the 14th minute, the designated hosts were left fuming at the way Albirex pulled level.
Having made his way down the left, Keisuke Ota lifted the ball over the onrushing Hassan Sunny before being brought down by the opposition keeper.
However, although he had blown for the foul, referee Farhad Mohd then reversed his decision upon seeing that the ball had landed into the back of the net and awarded the White Swans a goal, before cautioning Hassan.
Three minutes before halftime, the Japanese outfit edged ahead after Kazuya Okazaki played a slide-rule pass to release Kazuki Sakamoto, who coolly lifted his shot over the onrushing Hassan.
Despite their best efforts to fight back in the second half, the Warriors were just unable to carve out a clear-cut opportunity to test Ogino.
And in the 88th minute, Albirex went on to seal the victory after substitute Kento Nagasaki exchanged a lovely one-two with Okazaki before slotting through Hassan’s legs and into the back of the net.
The victory sends Albirex third on the table and two points behind leaders DPMM FC, who have a game in hand, while Warriors fall to fifth.
Warriors FC: Hassan Sunny, Ismail Yunos, Daniel Bennett, Marin Vidosevic, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Shi Jiayi (Hafsyar Farkhan 90′), Kevin McCann, Amin Rossady (Suria Prakash 70′), Miroslav Pejic (Agu Casmir 53′), Hafiz Rahim, Nicolas Velez.
Albirex Niigata (S): Kenjiro Ogino, Kento Fujihara (Taiyo Nishida 88′), Shuhei Hotta, Norihiro Kawakami, Itsuki Yamada, Koki Akasaka, Kosuke Matsuda, Keisuke Ota, Kazuya Okazaki, Hiroki Morisaki (Kento Nagasaki 68′), Kazuki Sakamoto (Kazuya Fukuzaki 90′)