Singapore Premier League • November 6, 2015

Stags’ Defeat Hands Initiative Back To DPMM


Written By: Kenneth Ho

Tampines Rovers gave Brunei DPMM the initiative in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title race after a 4-3 loss to Balestier Khalsa on Thursday evening.

The Stags needed to win their two games in hand to overtake DPMM but their defeat meant that they stayed five points behind the league leaders, with a game in hand.

On the other hand, the victory meant Balestier have now clawed to within two points of DPMM, albeit having played a game more. The Tigers will still require other results to go their way though if they hope to win their first-ever league title.

Balestier’s 4-3 triumph over Tampines would have raised a few eyebrows, considering how much was at stake in this game.

Both teams still had a mathematical chance to clinch the title, and the match was expected to a low-scoring tight affair.

However, the Tigers showed they were determined to go for a win and set the tone for match as early as the fourth minute, with Miroslav Kristic testing Rodrigo Pacheco from 25 yards, only for the goalkeeper to push away his free-kick.

They did not have to wait long for the lead though, as it would come in the eighth minute at the Toa Payoh Stadium.

Ignatius Ang was especially instrumental in the first goal, as he weaved his way past the Tampines defence and stung Pacheco’s gloves with his half-volley. Zulkiffli Hassim then reacted quickly to stab the ball into the back of the net.

The hosts’ lead would be doubled ten minutes later, with Igor Cerina forcing the ball past the line after his teammate Robert Pericic failed to do so.

Tampines had a chance to pull one back in the 21st minute, but Shaiful Esah was unfortunate to see his curler rise just above the bar.

Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam was then called upon to beat away Rodrigo Tosi’s ferocious volley five minutes later, as the Stags sought for a way back into the game.

The goal did arrive for Tampines in the 41st minute, with Tosi towering above the rest to meet Shaiful’s corner and plant it beyond Zaiful.

The restart saw Tampines battling hard to score the equaliser, but they suffered a huge setback in the 73rd minute when Kristic’s free-kick was allowed to bounce into goal to restore the Tigers’ two-goal lead.

The game then further exploded into life in the last ten minutes, with three more goals being added onto the scoreboard to set up for a dramatic ending.

Tampines had briefly sparked hopes of a comeback when Mateo Roskam reduced the deficit with a close-range shot in the 81st minute, only for Balestier to pull away once again after Kristic converted a penalty to make it 4-2 in injury time.

Despite Tampines converting a penalty of their own through Tosi moments later, the damage had already been done to send them home empty-handed.

Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Yusiskandar Yusop (Jonathan Xu 50′), Hanafi Salleh, Emir Lotinac, Igor Cerina, Zulkiffli Hassim, Ridwan Jamil (Poh Yifeng 70′), Robert Pericic, Tarik Cmajcanin, Miroslav Kristic, Ignatius Ang (Fadhil Noh 68′)

Tampines Rovers: Rodrigo Pacheco (GK), Ismadi Mukhtar (Firdaus Idros 62′), Jufri Taha, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Shaiful Esah (Indra Sahdan 82′), Mateo Roskam, Rodrigo Tosi, Fabian Kwok (Indra Sahdan 87′), Pedrag Pocuca, Ismail Yunos, Naeem Rahimi (Jamil Ali 68′)