Hougang United’s hopes of finishing inside the top six of the S.League are in real jeopardy after they were beaten 2-1 by bottom side Harimau Muda on Tuesday.
Although the Cheetahs dominated proceedings at the Hougang Stadium for much of the first half, it was the visitors who took the lead in the 27th minute after Faris Shah Rosli won possession off Lau Meng Meng and fired past Basil Chan.
And four minutes before the break, Harimau Muda edged further ahead when Asri Mardzuki curled a sublime freekick from the edge of the box into the top corner.
Things then went from bad to worse for the hosts ten minutes into the second half when they found themselves reduced to ten men, after Firman Hanif was sent off for a second bookable offence.
However, Hougang did manage to pull one back in the 90th minute after Nurhilmi Jasni broke free and steered a Wahyudi Wahid cross into the back of the net.
The visitors then had a man sent off as well in injury-time after substitute goalkeeper Ilham Amirullah was shown a second yellow for time-wasting.
Nonetheless, it proved to be too little too late for the Cheetahs as their Malaysian opponents held out for an impressive win.
The result means Hougang are now just three points ahead of seventh-placed Balestier Khalsa and will need a favour from Harimau Muda – who play the Tigers on Friday – in order to seal a top-half finish.
Hougang United: Basil Chan, Faizal Amir, Wahyudi Wahid, Igor Cerina, Lau Meng Meng, Nurhilmi Jasni, Firman Hanif, Shunsuke Nakatake, Fazli Jaffar (Erwan Gunawan 71’), Geison Moura, Diego Gama (Sutanto 76’).
Harimau Muda: Ramdhan Hamid (Ilham Amirullah 61’), Ashmawi Yakin, Syawal Nordin, Annas Rahmat, Qayyum Marjoni Sabil, Nor Azam Azih (Syazwan Zaipol Bahari 83’), Shahrul Igwan Samsudin, Faris Shah Rosli, Irfan Zakaria, Azrul Nizam Muhammad, Ramzi Haziq (Asri Mardzuki 10’).