Justin Hui helps Hougang United beat Garena Young Lions
A Justin Hui goal on the hour mark was enough to help Hougang United edge bottom side Garena Young Lions 1-0 at Jalan Besar Stadium in the S.League on Tuesday night.
The 19-year-old Prime League player struck in the second half after Iqbal Hussain had missed a first-half penalty, ensuring the Cheetahs pick up their first win in six matches in all competitions.
The result also meant they remained in touching distance of fourth-placed Geylang International. They are four points behind, having played a game more.
Hougang should haven taken the lead on 12 minutes when captain Nurhilmi Jasni was felled in the box, but Iqbal sent the resulting penalty straight at Zharfan Rohaizad.
Vincent Subramaniam's Young Lions gradually gained a foothold on the game, and could have scored on 36 minutes.
Ryan Syaffiq first saw his firm header parried by Ridhuan Barudin, before seeing his follow up held by the Hougang custodian.
Young Lions suffered a setback early in the second half, with Zharfan replaced by Hairul Syirhan in goal, due to injury.
The latter's first task was to pick the ball out of the net though, with Hougang winger Hui reacting the quickest in the box to stab home Fabian Kwok's low cross from the left.
The home side could have restored parity on 65 minutes, but midfielder Illyas Lee fired off-target from just inside the area.
Hougang then came close to a second on 79 minutes, with Zulfahmi Arifin's free kick denied by the upright.
But the miss did not matter as Philippe Aw's side held on for the three points.
It signalled a second successive loss for the Young Lions, meaning they are set to finish bottom for yet another season.
The local developmental side trail eighth-placed Brunei DPMM by eight points, with three games left to play.
Garena Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK, C) (Hairul Syirhan 57'), Rusyaidi Salime, Amirul Adli, Faizal Roslan, Syahrul Sazali, Illyas Lee, Armin Maier (Shameer Aziq 59'), Hami Syahin, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Ryan Syaffiq (Haiqal Pashia 74'), Taufik Suparno
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Nazrul Nazari, Delwinder Singh (Wahyudi Wahid 84'), Atsushi Shirota, Faiz Salleh, Fabian Kwok, Zulfahmi Arifin, Justin Hui (Amir Zalani 80'), Nurhilmi Jasni (C), Iqbal Hussain, Syukri Bashir (Antoine Viterale 46')
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT