News • February 20, 2016

Six-Goal Thriller In Eastern Derby Tops Pennant Debut


Written by: Alex Weaver

The spotlight was primed to shine on Tampines Rovers’ new marquee signing Jermaine Pennant when the Stags hosted Geylang International in the first Eastern Derby of the 2016 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League season at Jurong West Stadium on Monday evening.

However, six goals, two red cards and an enthralled crowd of 2,930 meant that the final match of round one produced a perfect advert for the S.League that surpassed the excitement built up in the stands in anticipation of the former Liverpool player’s debut in Singapore football.

Title favourites Tampines began the evening’s entertainment when they started brightly and took the lead in the 13th minute.

Jordan Webb ran at the Eagles defence and played a neat one-two pass with Billy Mehmet, before running into the penalty area to calmly slot past advancing Geylang custodian Syazwan Buhari.

Geylang continued to press for the next 20 minutes after going behind, but in the 34th minute, great movement and an accurate cross by Tampines left-back Hafiz Sujad found debutant Mehmet in the middle and the Englishman side-footed the ball into the back of the net.

But immediately after the restart, a momentary lapse by the Tampines defence allowed Amy Recha to force his way through on the right wing.

The former Courts Young Lions player then cut into the penalty area, before firing hard and low past Izwan Mahbud in the Tampines goal to reduce his side’s deficit 10 minutes before the interval.

Tampines’ defensive strengths under coach V.Sundramoorthy last season was clearly lacking throughout the game, and it came as no surprise when a poor clearance from an Eagles corner in the 55th minute helped Geylang level the score.

The ball fell to Carlos Delgado on the edge of the box and the Argentinian fired a piledriver through a mass of bodies into the bottom right corner of the net, leaving Izwan with no chance.

The much-anticipated moment arrived two minutes after the hour mark when Pennant finally made his debut, coming on to replace Fazrul Nawaz.

However, the excitement surrounding the Englishman’s appearance soon dissipated amongst the Tampines fans after captain Noh Rahman received his second yellow card for making an unnecessary lunging tackle on Geylang winger Sahil Suhaimi.

The Stags vainly tried to cope with having a lesser man on the field, but were clearly struggling as the game moved into the latter stages.

Substitute Stanley Ng subsequently capitalised on some tired defending by the Stags in the 78th minute when he latched onto a loose ball eight yards out.

Ng’s initial shot which was blocked by Shahdan Sulaiman’s outstretched foot, but the former made no mistake with the rebound, smashing the ball past a helpless Izwan to give his side the lead for the first time in the game.

Just as Geylang were thinking that they had secured three points, a well-worked throw-in in the 86th minute found Mehmet in the box and the striker deftly laid the ball off for Yasir, who fired past Syazwan with his first touch.

However, two minutes later, a moment of petulance by Yasir saw him joined Noh Rahman for an early shower after lashed out with his elbow at Gabriel Quak, catching the Singapore international in the face.

As referee Sukhbir Singh brought the game to an end moments later, the fans showed their appreciation for the entertainment they had witnessed the past 90 minutes as they departed the stadium.

Red Card: Noh Rahman, Yasir Hanapi (Tampines Rovers)

Tampines Rovers coach V. Sundramoorthy: “I thought we had them at two-nil but their (first) goal gave them a lifeline. The second half was a different story when we had the sending offs and the defensive mistakes. A draw at the end of the day, I will take it.”

Geylang International coach Hasrin Jailani: “Tampines have a good team and playing against nine men they are still going forward and try to create something. I’m not disappointed at all (despite failing to win after leading), instead I’m pleased with the performance of the players.”

Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Noh Rahman (C), Yasir Hanapi, Shahdan Sulaiman, Fazrul Nawaz (Jermaine Pennant 55’), Jordan Webb, Izzdin Shafiq,Hafiz Sujad, Shakir Hamzah, Irwan Shah (Christopher van Huizen 84’), Billy Mehmet

Geylang International: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Shariff Samat, Faritz Hameed, Safirul Sulaiman (Gabriel Quak 58’), Branko Cubrilo (Taufiq Ghani 78’), Amy Recha, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Carlos Delgado, Nor Azli Yussof (C), Sahil Suhaimi (Stanley Ng 34’)