Singapore Premier League • November 9, 2015

Comeback Victory Helps Stags Stay In Title Race


Written by: Shawn Lim

Tampines Rovers remained in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title race after putting up a tough fight to defeat Home United 3-2 at Yishun Stadium on Sunday night.

Mateo Roskam’s brace and Pedrag Pocuca’s second-half header in the second half was enough for the Stags to overcome the Protectors and cut Brunei DPMM’s at the top of the table to five points with a game in hand.

The stakes were high for the visitors coming into the game as they needed nothing less than three points, but it was the hosts who started brightly when Juma’at Jantan slided a low cross into the box for Azhar Sairudin in the 11th minute.

Despite being being inches away from goalmouth, Azhar could only balloon the ball over the goal post.

The tricky Stanely Ng then broke free on the right flank after easily turning Ismail Yunos in the 17th minute and his cut-back for an unmarked Ken Ilso was sliced narrowly wide.

The Stags found it difficult to break through the Protectors’ defensive lines and were limited to long-range shots from outside the box.

Roberto Alviz found an opening on the edge of the 18-yard box in the 25th minute, but saw his fierce drive deflected into the arms of Home custodian Shahril Jantan.

The hosts should have taken the lead four minutes later when Kamel Ramdani, back in the middle of midfield in place of the suspended Yasir Hanapi, sent Ilso through on goal with a visionary over-the-top pass.

However, the Dane saw his shot pushed away by Tampines custodian Rodrigo Pacheco first, before his rebound was headed off the line.

The visitors subsequently took the lead against the run of play in the 30th minute when Juma’at gave the ball away to Roskam on the edge of the 18-yard box and the Croatian laid the ball into path of Rodrigo Tosi.

Tosi then squared the ball to Firdaus Idros, whose piledriver was pushed away by Shahril before Roskam reacted the quickest to slam home the rebound.

Going a goal behind did not seem to faze the Protectors and four minutes later, Pacheco had to pull off a top-drawer save to deny Ilso’s header at point-blank after Sirina Camara’s pin-point cross.

The Stags could have doubled their lead in the 37th minute when Roskam’s accurate cross found Tosi, but the Brazilian sent his header just over the crossbar.

Home finally pulled level three minutes before the break when Jufri Taha stabbed Camara’s shot into his own net with Pacheco caught in no man’s land.

Tampines came out after the interval determined to find the second goal and almost succeeded in the 52nd minute when Roskam’s effort from 30 yards out flew narrowly wide of Shahril’s near post.

The Protectors had a glorious opportunity to take the lead a minute later when a one-two between Ilso and Camara saw the Frenchman sending a low-curling cross for Azhar.

However, the 29-year-old once again sent his shot over the crossbar despite being in front of a gaping goalmouth.

Ilso was next to try his luck in the 57th minute when he was allowed to run unchallenged horizontally across the 18-yard box, but he fired straight at Pacheco.

The hosts took the lead six minutes later when Sufianto Salleh’s low cross into the box was met at the far post by the onrushing Ng, who fired an unstoppable left-footed drive into the net.

Home’s joy at going ahead for the first time in the game only lasted three minutes when Tampines grabbed the equaliser after Roskam’s first time volley from Fabian Kwok’s corner hit the back of the net.

The Stags reclaimed the lead in the 71st minute when Home’s defence failed to properly clear another one of Kwok’s corner and the midfielder sent the ball back into box for Pocuca to head home.

There was a chance for the Protectors to pull level again with seven minutes left on the clock when Ng hit the byline before playing the ball into the box for Ilso, but the striker shot straight at Pacheco.

Further goals failed to materialise for Tampines to kill the game off, but the Stags held on to seal victory as time ran out for a Protectors’ equaliser.

Home United: Shahril Jantan (GK), Juma’at Jantan, Noh Rahman (C), Abdil Qaiyyim, Sirina Camara, Song Uiyong, Azhar Sairudin, Stanely Ng (Nur Hizami 85’), Sufianto Salleh (Imran Sahib 74’), Kamel Ramdani, Ken Ilso

Tampines Rovers: Rodrigo Pacheco (GK), Jufri Taha, Fahrudin Mustafic (C) (Ismadi Mukhtar 58’), Ismail Yunos, Pedrag Pocuca, Firdaus Idros, Fabian Kwok, Roberto Alviz (Ridhuan Muhamad 85’) (Shaiful Esah 89’), Isa Halim, Mateo Roskam, Rodrigo Tosi