Singapore Premier League • March 25, 2014

Stags Show Who Is Boss In S.League


Written By: Zack Rahim

Tampines Rovers sent out a strong signal on Sunday evening – they are still the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League top dogs.

Meeting Brunei DPMM, a team which had never let in a goal or dropped points thus far this season, the five-time league champions showed they are still the ultimate force to be reckoned with in Singapore football by beating the hosts 2-1 at their own grounds with goals from talismanic striker Miljan Mrdakovic and classy midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman.

Previous table toppers DPMM had never beaten the Stags in each of their last four encounters, and that record continued after Salim Moin’s men showcased their experience and know-how by coming back from a one-goal deficit to silence the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Bandar Seri Begawan.

But after hitting the posts twice during the game, DPMM were perhaps unlucky not to have come out with the win.

The hosts took an early lead after the sixth minute when Rodrigo Tosi laid the ball off to Roberto Alviz, who easily slotted it in from outside the box.

Shahdan tested Wardun Yussof in the 19th minute, but the first half was DPMM’s – who controlled possession and had Alviz to distribute the ball to the flanks.

The second half, though, was a different story.

DPMM came out with all guns blazing and pressing the visitors at every sight of the ball after the restart, but it was this tactic that perhaps led to their downfall.

Tampines bidded their time, and a through ball to Mrdakovic – who leads the S-League goal scoring charts with five goals – saw the former Serbian Under-23 national slot the ball home past Wardun’s left.

The goal opened the game up, and both sides started to find it easier to gain space.

DPMM’s Roy O’Donovan stung Hyrulnizam Juma’at’s gloves in the 64th minute, but two key saves by Wardun kept DPMM in the game – first denying Mrdakovic and then Alexandar Duric.

An audacious lob from Rodrigo Tosi from the left from a seemingly tight angle was met by a shot which hit the side netting from O’Donovan, and soon later, Rosmin hit the right post with a shot from outside the box.

A strike from Rosmin which Hyrulnizam saved fell onto the path of O’Donovan, who hit the left post with his attempt from inside the box.

Though he was relatively quiet throughout the game, Mrdakovic proved his worth with a lay-off to Shahdan after a counter-attack.

Unlike DPMM’s players, Shahdan made sure to take his chance when it mattered and eased the ball past Wardun’s left for the winning goal – and the one which showed that the Stags are still the team to beat in Singapore.