League Cup • July 25, 2014
Hat-Trick Hero Mrdakovic Wins Plate For Tampines
Written by: Muhammad Yazid
Miljan Mrdakovic blasted a hat-trick against Balestier Khalsa to lift the StarHub League Cup Plate trophy for Tampines Rovers at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday evening.
Balestier had to play without their centre-back Emir Lotinac, but that did not seem to be much of a problem as the defence was doing a pretty decent job for most the first half.
It was the Tigers who were rewarded with the first chance of the game, only after 23 minutes.
Following a throw-in from the left, Kim Minho unleashed a dipping volley from just outside the penalty box which cannoned off the crossbar.
That clearly did not affect the Stags, as they broke the deadlock through Mrdakovic four minutes later.
The forward coolly finished off Ang Zhi Wei’s low and precise cross which evaded a couple of defenders, into the bottom corner of the net to award his side the lead.
Balestier were trying hard to break through the stubborn Tampines defence and were only successful in a couple of times through Goran Ljubojevic, but even those chances failed to materialise into the equaliser for them.
The Croatian’s half-volley sailed inches over the bar before he headed Park Kang Jin’s corner straight into Justin Pasfield’s grateful palms.
The rest of the first half and the start of the second half depicted a very tight game, as both sides had trouble breaking through and exploiting spaces.
The Tigers’ best chance of the game came in the 71st minute through Tajeli Salamat.
The midfielder latched onto to a through ball which came off a Tampines defender, and he agonisingly missed the post from just ten yards out with only Pasfield to beat.
The 19-year-old probably had the worst of nights as he squandered another glorious opportunity minutes later, with his low finish rolling inches wide.
Just as when the Tigers were searching for the equaliser, Mrdakovic made it goal number two for himself and his team to kill off Balestier chances.
He had the simplest of tasks of blasting the ball into the back of an open net from six yards out, after an amazingly unselfish play from substitute Shahdan Sulaiman, who chose to lay the ball towards his teammate instead of trying to beat Zaiful Nizam.
The 32-year-old earned his hat-trick just a minute later with another easy tap-in goal after Shahdan’s shot was parried away into the path of Mrdakovic.