News • October 16, 2016
Stags Back To Winning Ways
Written by: Darren Ho
Despite conceding the Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League title to Albirex Niigata (S), Tampines Rovers did not let it dampen their spirit as they cruised to a 3-1 win over Garena Young Lions at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.
Although Billy Mehmet’s opener in the 54th minute was cancelled out by the Young Lions’ Ryan Syafiqq four minutes later, Yasir Hanapi restored the Stags lead in the 61st minute and Jordan Webb netted his team’s third goal in the 77th minute.
The win saw Tampines leapfrogged Brunei DPMM to second in the league table with 43 points. DPMM is two points behind Akbar Nawaz charges and having played a game more.
The Stags came into this match on the back of a 1-0 defeat to DPMM and they were determined to return to winning ways. But it was the Young Lions that impressed in the first half, keeping the more experienced opponents at bay with their astute defending.
Patrick Hesse’s team almost took the lead in the sixth minute when Khairul Amri picked up a loose ball in his the final third, but his effort went inches off the mark.
It was Tampines who was left frustrated a minute later as Young Lions’ custodian Fashah Iskandar comfortably gathered Mehmet’s shot.
The second half saw Akbar introducing former Arsenal and Liverpool player Jermaine Pennant into the match and midfielder did well to exert his influence in the middle of the park.
The Stags did not wait long after the break to open the scoring when Mehmet connected well with Yasir’s pass into the danger area to blast the ball past Fashah in the 54th minute.
But the lead did not last long as the Young Lions restored parity three minutes later. Hami Syahin twinkled past his markers before laying the ball across goal, although Joshua Pereira’s shot was blocked by Fahrudin Mustafic, Ryan reacted the quickest to the loose ball to level the score.
There was little time to celebrate for the home fans though as Tampines regained the lead four minutes later. Pennant sent a long ball from the middle of the field for Mehmet in the box who knocked down the ball for Yasir who slammed home the ball to the bottom corner from 20-yard.
Pennant and Mehmet then fashioned their chances with two long-range efforts – Pennant’s effort hit the crossbar, while Mehmet forced out an outstretched save from Fashah.
The Stags was duly rewarded with a third goal in the 76th minute. Webb played a clever one-two touch with Mehmet, before chipping the ball past Fashah and into the bottom left corner.
Despite trailing by two goals, the Young Lions did not slow down their game and were still looking for ways to reduce the deficit in the final stages of the match.
Firdaus Kasman tested Izwan from 25-yards, but his thumping shot was comfortably met by the Singapore international who gripped firmly onto the ball and the referee blew the final whistle shortly after.
Garena Young Lions head coach Patrick Hesse: “I am proud of the Young Lions as we know playing against Tampines was difficult and we fought throughout the game. In the first-half, we had opportunities to score and we could have done better.
“But with a player quality like Pennant (who was brought on at half-time), he had immediately changed the way style of play of Tampines and we need that sort of statute player. However in Young Lions, we hope to nurture our players to the standards of Pennant in the future and we are not far from it.
“If we speak in terms of points, (finishing with nine points) is not a good season. But in terms of progress, we have done well. Most players at their age will play in the Prime League for other clubs. But our club give these players a chance in the S.League.
“It is important to be positive and keep the players for the future in preparation for the SEA Games and the national team.”
Tampines Rovers head coach Akbar Nawas: “I am pleased with the result and performance as I am preparing the team for the RHB Singapore Cup final this October and that is why I had a new formation in the first-half before switching to a different formation in the second-half.
“While we want to finish second place, I thought why not do something about the team when we have a Cup final to play for.
“Winning and scoring is good for the team and good for their confidence, as there will a psychological battle to still make them play until Cup final.”
Garena Young Lions: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Mohammad Syahrul, Faizal Roslan, Rusyaidi Salime, Amirul Adli, Joshua Pereira, Hami Syahin (Muhaimin Suhaimi 74’), Adam Swandi (Fareez Farhan 71’), Firdaus Kasman, Ryan Syaffiq (Shafeeq Faruk 82’), Khairul Amri (C)
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK) (C), Ismadi Mukhtar (Shahdan Sulaiman 72‘) , Fahrudin Mustafic, Noh Rahman, Yasir Hanapi, Jordan Webb (Shakir Hamzah 80’) , Fabian Kwok (Jermaine Pennant 46’), Izzdin Shafiq, Afiq Yunos, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Billy Mehmet