Singapore Cup • September 12, 2014
Pasfield’s Penalty Save Gives Stags Advantage
Written by Shawn Lim
Justin Pasfield was the hero of the night as the Australian goalkeeper guessed the correct way deep in injury time to save Balestier Khalsa striker Goran Ljubojevic’s penalty kick to seal a 2-1 win for Tampines Rovers in the RHB Singapore Cup semi-finals first leg at the Clementi Stadium on Monday.
The ball had fallen to Syed Thaha after Tampines defence failed to clear from a Balestier attack that broke down and Syed’s quick dash into the penalty box was abruptly halted. Referee Ahamd A’Qashah had no choice but to point to the spot.
The Tigers travelled to Clementi Stadium with every intention of taking an advantage back to Toa Payoh Stadium for the second leg on Thursday.
It was Balestier that started the encounter the brighter of the two sides, as they were quick to close the Stags down and not allow Rafi Ali’s men to have too much time on the ball.
Their game plan seemed to work until Tampines Rovers broke the deadlock.
After the referee had turned down a penalty appeal by Ljubojevic on the other end, Miljan Mrdakovic took down a long pass from Shahdan Sulaiman and sent a sweet curler past Balestier custodian Zaiful Nizam to give the Stags the lead in the 18th minute.
Tampines started to settle down after the goal and found their rhythm.
Minutes later, Ismadi Mukhtar, easily the best player of the night, rocked Balestier’s crossbar with a shot from outside the penalty box.
As the half wore on, Balestier’s high pressing game started to fade and a clearly frustrated Ljubojevic made his feelings known to his teammates when they failed yet again to convert their chances after he had set them up.
Balestier started the second half in similar fashion as the first, but this time their forays in to Tampines half paid dividends, when a goalmouth melee resulted in Pang Kang Jin slotting home the ball, past the flailing arms of Pasfield to equalise for the away team in the 53rd minute.
Tampines went in search for a second goal and were almost instantly rewarded when Noh Alam Shah’s bullet header from a Shahdan’s corner whizzed past the top of the crossbar.
With the clock ticking down, Rafi brought on Aleksandar Duric and Shaiful Esah in the 68th minute to improve his side attacking play. His tactical move changed the complexion of the game.
Duric found Jamil Ali, another substitute, with a cross that went beyond the midfielder, but Jamil was still able to dribble his way back into the Balestier’s penalty box and his shot found the back of the net in the 70th minute to make it 2-1.
There was still work to be done for Tampines when the fourth official held up his board to indicate four minutes of injury time, but Pasfield’s safe hands ensured that the Stags will go into the second leg with a one-goal advantage .