Stags Emerge Victorious To Leapfrog Into Second Place

Aaron Chan
Writer / Editor
The Unofficial S.League Podcast

Christina Seah-Rodrigues
The Unofficial S.League Podcast

Tampines Rovers put their AFC Cup woes behind them as they came from a goal down to beat title contenders Home United with a convincing 3-2 victory at the Jalan Besar Stadium last evening.

Amiruldin Asraf looked to maintain the Protectors' unbeaten run in the league after he fired past Joey Sim to give Home United the lead after just 13 minutes played. 

Ryutaro Megumi caught the Protectors' defence on the back foot eight minutes later when he burst past Sirina Camara to send in a dangerous cross for Yasir Hanapi and Home United had custodian Hassan Sunny to thank when he reacted quickly to push the ball beyond Yasir's reach.

Juma'at Jantan was then substituted off with Prime League starlet Marijan Suto taking his place in a somewhat bizarre change in the 29th minute which Home United coach Aidil Sharin later attributed to an injury to the Singapore international which he didn't want to risk further aggravating in view of the looming AFC Cup fixture next week.

The porosity in an Irfan-less defence saw the Stags bag an equalizer three minutes later as Khairul Amri ghosted in behind the Protectors' defence to knock home Shahdan Sulaiman's corner kick.

Shakir Hamzah would put Tampines in front in the 40th minute when he placed the ball in the net after a perfectly rehearsed training ground routine before an unmarked Daniel Bennett would rise high to head in Shahdan's corner at the stroke of half-time to give the Stags a two goal cushion heading into the break.

Spectators witnessed a real battle between Son Yong-Chan and Song Ui-Young in the middle of the pitch and for all his industry, Song could not find a way past a stubborn Tampines defence. Hariss Harun was also a passenger for a large part of the game, a surpringly low profile performance from a player of his calibre. 

Megumi was a constant thorn in Home United's side and the Japanese winger should have extended the lead further with a stinging effort in the 64th minute that whistled past the crossbar.

The Protectors then set up a grandstand finish when Aibil Qaiyyim forayed forward to thread an excellent through ball to Amiruldin in the 82nd minute, who slotted it calmly under Sim for his second goal of the night.

Song had a penalty shout deep in extra time but referee G. Letchman gestured for the exasperated Korean to get up, while Tampines endured a jittery final ten minutes to hold on for their fourth consecutive win.

Home United Coach Aidil Sharin wore his heart on his sleeve as he addressed the media after the match: "I think it was a good game and I have to congratulate Tampines (on their victory). It was a highly intense game and we could have done better, but credit must go to Tampines for coming back from a goal down."

"After taking the lead, we lost our concentration and we got punished for it, especially so when Tampines has a good squad with players like Khairul Amri and Ryutaro Megumi. However, our performance was much better in the second half. We came onto the pitch when we were 3-1 down and we knew we had nothing to lose." said the 39 year old.

When asked whether he had kept some of his key players on the bench in view of the upcoming AFC Cup Zonal Semi-Finals match against Global Cebu FC, Aidil said: "Khairul Nizam, Adam Swandi and Stipe Plazibat were rested today for the AFC match. Irfan (Fandi) was also missing due to his NS commitments."

Tampines Rovers Coach Juergen Raab was delighted with the way his side fought back to clinch the the win: "I'm very happy. I think it was a high class football match which was played at a high intensity and good football coming from both sides. It's always difficult coming back (from being a goal down). I'm proud that we had beated such a strong team like Home United, who had come into this match unbeaten."

"The team was well prepared for the game and they kept putting pressure on Home United. We gave Faris (Ramli) no space at all and that was a very important element. All our players reacted correctly after (going down to) the first goal and for me that was a very important step for us to get the win."

"The hard-earned victory sees Tampines Rovers move into second spot while Home United slip into third place. The end of the Protectors' unbeaten run also means that Albirex Niigata (S) remain the only unbeaten team in the league so far."

Full-Time at Jalan Besar Stadium: S.League (13 May 2017):

Tampines Rovers - 3
Home United - 2


Tampines Rovers - Khairul Amri 31', Shakir Hamzah 40', Daniel Bennett 45'
Home United - Amiruldin Asraf 13', 82'

Tampines Rovers: Joey Sim (GK), Ismadi Mukhtar (Jufri Taha 79’), Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Son Yong-Chan, Shahdan Sulaiman, Ryutaro Megumi, Shakir Hamzah, Fazli Ayob, Daniel Bennett, Yasir Hanapi, Khairul Amri (Zulfadhmi Suzliman 76’)

Home United: Hassan Sunny (GK & C), Hariss Harun, Afiq Yunos, Juma’at Jantan (Marijan Suto 29’), Abdil Qaiyyim, Song Ui-Young, Faris Ramli, Sirina Camara (Sufianto Salleh 55’), Shamil Sharif, Amiruldin Asraf, Christopher van Huizen (Haziq Azman 76’)

All copyrights © 2017 are attributed to the respective contributors above.