Singapore Premier League • April 14, 2014

Clinical Tampines Get Back To Winning Ways


Written By: Kenneth Ho

Tampines Rovers put on a clinical show to defeat Balestier Khalsa 3-1 at the Clementi Stadium on Sunday night and get back to winning ways after two losses in all competition.

Despite registering only a few shots on target, the Stags still managed to put three past Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam.

Noh Alam Shah headed in the first goal before Luis Closa grabbed a brace to seal the match for the Stags. Kim Minho pulled back the solitary goal for the Tigers.

It was all Balestier in the opening 15 minutes but the Stags went against the run of play to earn the lead with Noh heading in Closa’s delivery.

The Tigers’ misery were then doubled in the 30th minute when Closa volleyed in a 25-yard grounder from Paul Cunningham’s clearance.

Play was then suspended two minutes later for over an hour as the lightning system alert came on, and players were called to seek shelter till it was safe to play again.

The unexpected break allowed Balestier to regroup, and they nearly reduced the deficit when play resumed.

Goran Ljubojevic ran down the left channel and played in a low cross for an unmarked Syed Thana to run onto but Tampines goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma’at rushed out just in time to gather the ball.

If the Tigers had any hopes for a comeback in the second half, it was extinguished barely a minute after the interval.

Cunningham’s failure to halt Closa allowed the Paraguayan midfielder to skip into space before he unleashed in a low shot from the edge of the box to put the Stags three goals up.

The Tigers still had some fight in them though, as they pushed Tampines to eventually pull one back in the 54th minute.

After Anaz Hadee fouled Syed, the latter delivered in a lovely free kick which Kim managed to power in. Even though Hyrulnizam caught the ball, the assistant referee ruled that the ball had already crossed the line.

The visitors nearly scored another goal straightaway, when Ljubojevic laid the ball off for Kim to shoot from the edge of the box, but Hyrulnizam managed to parry the shot away.

The Stags custodian was also a relieved man just after the hour mark, when Ljubojevic’s effort had him scrambling across goal, but luckily for him the ball was inches wide.

Going for broke, Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic pushed Cunningham up front, hoping that the big-man could use his physical presence to pressurise the Tampines defence.

It nearly yielded dividends when Cunningham used his frame to hold the ball and cushion it for Kim to strike, but the forward put it over from an acute angle

Cunningham then saw his dipping set-piece shave the crossbar as time increasingly ran out for his team.

The match ended soon after, but not before Tampines nearly scored a fourth when Shahdan Sulaiman made a superb cross in for Aleksandar Duric to hit home. However credit had to go to Zaiful for making a smart one-handed reflex save.