Hougang United aim to turn S.League draws into wins vs. Warriors FC

Hougang United will be out to continue their unbeaten streak when they take on Warriors FC in a televised S.League game at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night.

The Cheetahs haven't lost in seven matches in all competitions, drawing their last four -- three in the Singapore League Cup, and one in the S.League.

It was a disappointing outing last Saturday as they were held to a 0-0 stalemate by struggling Balestier Khalsa at Toa Payoh Stadium after playing for much of the game with just 10 men, due to Nazrul Nazari's second-half dismissal.

The result meant they remained in sixth spot, a point behind Geylang International, and five behind Warriors FC, albeit with games in hand -- short of their target of finishing among the top three teams.

Coach Philippe Aw is eyeing this opportunity to close the gap before their two-legged Singapore Cup quarterfinal tie against Cambodian side Nagaworld next week.

"We didn't sit back just to get the point against Balestier [despite playing with a man down]," he told the S.League's official website. "We actually went for the three points.

"Now we're on a good run, we will set up to beat Warriors for sure. Competitions for places has been tight and that can only be good for the team."

First-choice goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid echoed his coach's comments as the Cheetahs target a second-straight win over Warriors in the S.League.

The teams last faced off in the S.League in April, with Hougang coming away from Choa Chu Kang Stadium with a 2-0 win, courtesy of goals from Fumiya Kogure and Fareez Farhan.

They did recently meet in the League Cup group stages, with the game ending 2-2 at Hougang Stadium, as Warriors secured their spot in the last four at the expense of the Cheetahs before making the final.

"For the past matches we have been scoring and sticking to the coach's instructions," the 26-year-old Khairulhin said. "We are preparing well for this match against Warriors and I feel we can do well.

"At the end of the day, it's a team game. We all just have to work together, play as a unit and go for the win."

As for the Warriors, their title charge looks to be slipping away after a poor run of just one win in their last five league matches.

A week ago at Choa Chu Kang, they dominated the game, but failed to put their chances away as champions Albirex Niigata (S) stole a 2-1 win right at the death.

The nine-time S.League champions are 12 points off the pace with nine games to go, but experienced coach Razif Onn is not throwing in the towel just yet.

"It will be difficult for the title but we are not giving up and I am not blaming the tight scheduling because my team is relatively injury-free," he said.

"We didn't take our chances [against Albirex], as simple as that. We had three or four situations which we could have scored but didn't convert. That's an area which we have to improve on for our next matches.

Warriors will have to contend without the suspended Baihakki Khaizan, while Hougang will miss the services of Nazrul, who is serving the first of a two-match ban. Lionel Tan and Amir Zalani will also be absent because of their involvement in the Singapore Under-22 training camp in Perth.