Singapore Cup • July 2, 2014
Stags Cruise Into Last Four With Resounding Win
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
(First Leg score: Tampines Rovers 4-2 Tanjong Pagar United; Tampines Rovers win 8-3 on aggregate)
Tanjong Pagar United failed to make home advantage count as they bowed out of the RHB Singapore Cup at the quarter-final stage after a 8-3 aggregate defeat to Tampines Rovers.
First-half strikes from Anaz Hadee and Miljan Mrdakovic coupled with a goal apiece from Jozef Kaplan and substitute Noh Alam Shah in the closing stages of the game rendered Sebastien Etiemble’s penalty inconsequential, as Tampines walked away with a 4-1 win in the second leg at Queenstown Stadium on Tuesday evening.
To compound misery for the 2013 Singapore Cup finalists, they had to soldier on for the remaining twenty minutes without skipper Ahmad Latiff and Hafiz Osman after both saw red.
With Jufri Taha suspended for this game, Tampines coach Rafi Ali reshuffled his pack. In came Matthew Abraham at left-back as he made his first start of the season while Rafi kept faith with two-goal hero Jamil Ali who patrolled the right wing.
It was the reigning Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League champions who were quick off the blocks and nearly opened the scoring after just two minutes. After breaking free of the offside trap, Kaplan raced through on goal but was denied by the onrushing Aurelien Herisson.
Despite having the better of chances in the opening exchanges, the visitors were constantly left frustrated by a stubborn Tanjong Pagar defence who on the other hand, looked dangerous on the break but were let down by poor decision-making in the final third.
On the half-hour mark, Firdaus Idros thought he had given Tanjong Pagar the lead when he chested home Ruzaini Zainal’s cross but his joy was short-lived as that was chalked off for offside.
The deadlock was however broken three minutes later when an overlapping Anaz capitalised on a lapse at the back to rifle an unstoppable left-footed shot past Herisson for the lead.
Tanjong Pagar almost hit back immediately, but Firdaus saw his header sail agonisingly wide at the other end off a left-wing cross on 36 minutes before Mrdakovic’s effort came off the upright minutes later.
Making amends for his earlier miss, Mrdakovic then made it 2-0 just before the break as he rounded Herisson to tap the ball into an empty net.
Tampines goalkeeper Justin Pasfield was tested for the first time in the match on the stroke of half-time, tipping Kamel Ramdani’s goalbound effort over the bar.
Etiemble then pulled one back for the Jaguars in the 61st minute as he made no mistake from the spot, blasting the ball into Pasfield’s top corner after Latiff was felled in the box.
There was still time for more goals though as Kaplan swept home a cutback in the 84th minute before Alam Shah poked Jamil’s cross home from close range to add gloss to the scoreline and fire Tampines into the last four of the competition.
Tampines will now await the winner from another quarter-final encounter between Geylang International and Balestier Khalsa scheduled to be played at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday.