Singapore Premier League • April 19, 2014
Reigning Champions Stunned by Fiery Rams
Written by: Khalis Rifhan
Tampines Rovers’ unbeaten run against Woodlands Wellington ended on Friday evening after the Rams put up a spirited display to grab a valuable 2-1 win over the reigning Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League champions at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Atsushi Shimono was the hero of the night as he struck the winner after the Stags midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman cancelled out Chang Jo Yoon’s opener in the second half.
Woodlands previous win against their opponents in the league stretched back to September 2009 when Jamil Ali, who is now with the Stags, struck the only goal of that match.
The Rams who were without their influential playmaker Stefan Milojevic, deployed the soak-and-pressure strategy to their advantage, with both goals coming from effective counter-attacking moves.
Tampines played with a three-man attack and they piled the pressure on their opponents early on in the game.
However, Woodlands custodian Yazid Yasin put on a brilliant show throughout the game to deny the Stags time and again.
Aleksandar Duric and Luis Closa had a go minutes into the match but Yazid thwarted any threats that came his way, before he pulled out a big save from Noh Alam Shah in the sixth minute.
Alam Shah had cleverly eluded his markers to latch onto Duric’s through ball at the final third, but he found Yazid in his way as the goalkeeper threw his body to the ground to block the striker’s effort.
Despite the positive start, the Stags found themselves behind four minutes later, as Chang produced a peach of a goal to stun the reigning champions.
Getting onto the end of Taufiq Ghani’s ball in the penalty box, the South Korean skillfully feinted to the right, to wrongfoot his marker Anaz Hadee before curling the ball into the top corner.
Darren Stewart’s side could have extended their advantage before the interval but they were let down by poor finishing.
Moon Soon Ho’s attempted volley 10 yards from goal in the 28th minute went awfully wayward while Chang failed to guide the ball towards goal with his header two minutes later
The reigning S.League champions could have equalised towards the end of the first half but Yazid acrobatically tipped Alam Shah’s point-blank header onto the bar.
Tampines came out of the dressing room determined to prevent a second loss in the league and their determination paid off in the 50th minute.
Yazid committed a rare blunder when he came racing out to gather the ball and allowed it to bounce off him. The ball landed into Shahdan’s path and he gleefully guided the ball into an empty net.
The Stags’ joy was short-lived however, as the Rams regained the lead six minutes later.
Atsushi Shimono ran the length of half the pitch and into the box after getting onto the end of Taufiq’s pass and he made no mistake from close range as he slotted the ball through the legs of Tampines goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma’at.
With the result, Tampines remain in second spot in the league table on 18 points while Woodlands leapfrogged Balestier Khalsa to the 10th position.