Singapore Premier League • October 29, 2015

Stags Blow Title Race Wide Open


Written by Dwayne James

Ten-man Tampines Rovers FC blew the Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League title race wide open after edging leaders Brunei DPMM 1-0 on Wednesday evening.

Naeem Rahimi netted the only goal of the game in the second half to give the Stags maximum points at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium.

Despite the defeat, DPMM remain at the top of the standings on 46 points with three games remaining while Tampines, who are six points back and have two games in hand, leapfrogged Balestier Khalsa FC into second spot on goal difference.

The hosts got off to a strong start and could have broken the deadlock in the second minute but Maududi Hilmi Kasmi watched his free-kick from outside the box sailed just wide.

DPMM came forward again in the eighth minute and Joe Gamble found space from 20 yards out but his effort was off the mark.

The next minute, Maududi struck one from the same distance but Tampines goalkeeper Rodrigo Pacheco dived down for the save.

The Brunei side came close again and should have taken the lead in the 13th minute.  Aminuddin Zakwan Tahir made a good run down the middle to set up Azwan Ali Rahman, who failed to put it on target.

Three minutes later, Pacheco produced another save to stop a powerful header by Boris Raspudic inside the box.

The visitors finally settled down in the game and got a chance in the 24th minute.

Shaiful Esah sent his free-kick from the edge of the box into the wall but skipper Fahrudin Mustafic could not hit the target from the rebound.

Ismadi Mukhtar attempted one from 25 yards out five minutes later,  but it was straight into DPMM custodian Wardun Yussof’s arms, the same Shaiful did with a free-kick from 40 yards out later.

A good diagonal ball by Fabian Kwok in the 56th minute was headed by Rodrigo Tosi but it was once again off target.

The second half was littered with fouls and was played at a slow pace, until the visitors were gifted a goal in the 75th minute.

Substitute Ridhuan Muhamad broke down the right and sent a cross into the box, which was poorly cleared by Raspudic onto the path for Naeem.

The midfielder needed to further invitation to blast the ball past Wardun to give Tampines a crucial goal.

DPMM were given a lifeline seven minutes later after Naeem was sent off for a second bookable offence.

The hosts pushed forward and should have equalised in the 88th minute.

Rafael Ramazotti headed down for Joe Gamble to volley from inside the box but Pacheco produced an acrobatic save.

The Brazilian goalkeeper came to rescue of the Stags again minutes later having to dive down low to keep out a free-kick by Rosmin Kamis that was headed for the bottom corner.

There was drama late on with  both sides coming together after Noh Alam Shah fouled Azwan Ali, but it did not stop the Stags from becoming only the second team to claim three points in Brunei this season.