Singapore Premier League • November 22, 2015
Stags Falter At Final Hurdle
Written by: Shawn Lim
Tampines Rovers ended their Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League 2015 campaign as runners-up after being held to a 1-1 draw with Harimau Muda on Saturday night at Jurong West Stadium.
The Stags had beaten Home United and Albirex Niigata (S) to take the title race down to the wire, but still needed to win by two goals in their final game of the season and for Balestier Khalsa to defeat or hold Brunei DPMM to a draw in order to be crowned champions.
In the end, the hosts came up short after they failed to achieve maximum points against the Young Tigers and finished in second place on the table with 48 points while the Wasps thumped Balestier 4-0 to win the title in Brunei.
The visitors got off to a dream start when the Tampines defence failed to deal with Syahrul Azwari’s corner in the seventh minute and allowed Ariff Farhan to sneak in at the far post to slot the ball home.
The Stags, whose coach V.Sundramoorthy was serving a touchline ban, could have pulled level in the 16th minute when Mateo Roskam’s cut-back found Roberto Alviz on the edge of the 18-yard box, but the latter sent his fierce drive sailing over the crossbar.
Alviz turned provider four minutes later when his corner kick found an unmarked Roskam, but the Croatian was unable to keep his header down.
The Young Tigers continued to look dangerous, with Tampines thankful for two good saves from Rodrigo Pacheco in quick succession.
The Brazilian goalkeeper was required to push away Syahrul Azwari’s curling shot from just outside the box in the 25th minute before brilliantly tipping away Kumaahran Sathasivam’s 35-yard piledriver six minutes later.
The hosts’ misery was further compounded in the 35th minute when Isa Halim was given a straight red card for lashing out at Akhir Bahari while both players were tussling for the ball.
Tampines came out firing after the break though, and were quickly on level terms through Rodrigo Tosi when the Brazilian converted a penalty-kick after Annas Rahmat was adjudged to have handled the ball in the 55th minute.
Harimau Muda custodian Ilham Amirullah denied the Stags from doubling their lead just before the hour mark when he saved Ridhuan Muhamad’s shot with his legs after the 31-year-old was played through on goal.
Ilham then got down well at his near post four minutes later to save Tosi’s powerful glancing header from Ridhuan’s searching cross.
Syahrul wasted a glorious opportunity to give his side the lead again in the 78th minute after he was allowed to run unchallenged into the 18-yard box, but sent his shot wide with only Pacheco to beat.
The visitors lost their numerical advantage in the 83rd minute when Kenny Pallraj was sent off for violent conduct after retaliating to a challenge by Zufadli Zainal.
Substitute Noh Alam Shah joined Pallraj for an early shower six minutes later when he was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Ilham within a minute of coming on for Zufadli.
There was still time for the nine-men Stags to grab a winner in stoppage time, but substitute Jamli Ali’s ambitious lob from the edge of the box failed to hit the target as the final whistle arrived shortly after.
Tampines Rovers: Rodrigo Pacheco (GK), Ismadi Mukhtar, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Shaiful Esah, Pedrag Pocuca, Isa Halim, Fabian Kwok (Zulfadli Zainal 26’) (Noh Alam Shah 87’), Ridhuan Muhamad (Jamil Ali 78’), Roberto Alviz, Mateo Roskam, Rodrigo Tosi
Harimau Muda: Ilham Amirullah (GK), Wan Ahmad Zarfan, Asri Mardzuki, Annas Rahmat, Kenny Pallraj, Ariff Farhan, Akhir Bahari, Kumaahran Sathasivam, Adam Nor (C), Syahrul Azwari (Syazwan Andik 81’), Syafwan Syahlan (Shahrul Igwan 68’)