News • August 13, 2016
Stags Survive Warriors Scare To Keep Title Race Alive
Written by: Nevin Gabriel Khoo
Tampines Rovers closed the gap between them and Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League leaders Albirex Niigata (S) to just a point following their nerve-wrecking 3-2 win over Warriors FC at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Friday night.
With the White Swans opening a four points lead at the summit after their win over Garena Young Lions a day earlier, the Stags could not afford to drop any points against Razif Onn’s charges.
With that in mind, the visitors came out with an attacking mindset as they took the lead within a minute of kick-off as a lofted ball found an unmarked Fazrul Nawaz on the right flank. With all the time and space in the world, the Singapore international was able to pick out Billy Mehmet who had the simplest of finishes with only the keeper to beat.
Following the opening goal, the Tampines seemed contented in soaking up the pressure from the Warriors and ultimately paid the price in the 23rd minute. An inswinging corner found an unmarked Jonathan Behe who powered home the equaliser.
Warriors were galvanized by Behe’s equaliser and took the lead in the 35th minute through Ridhuan Muhamad.
A spectacular double save by Yazid Yasin kept the score equal before the Warriors launched a quick counter attack via the right wing. Ridhuan unleashed an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner of Izwan Mahbud’s goal, giving Warriors the lead going into the break.
The Stags started the second half with more intent and nearly equalised in 53rd minute but Jordan Webb’s goal was ruled offside much to the dismay of the away supporters.
Their pressure paid off in the 56th minute as Webb got to the end of a defence splitting pass before rounding Warriors’ keeper Yazid to equalise.
Tampines restored their lead after Madhu Mohana was given his marching orders for receiving his second yellow of the night for a foul on Hafiz Sujad in the penalty box. Mehmet made no mistake from the penalty spot and wrong footed Yazid to make it 3-2 to the Stags.
Warriors FC head coach Razif Onn: “I think we should ask ourselves how we could have lost the game.We cannot afford to play 10 against 11 against Tampines, or Albirex. We certainly cannot do that against any of the top teams in the league but it happens and my players did not give up but rather they showed their fighting spirit.”
Tampines Rovers head coach Akbar Nawas: “After the first goal, we went to sleep for sure. After the first few Warriors attacks following the (our) opening goal, the signs were there, it was coming. We should have defended before they could enter their attacking third. We should have defended better in midfield.”
“We were lucky to get out of this situation with a 3-2 win. In the second half we put on a better show and at this stage of the season, who would choose seven goals over three points?”
Warriors FC: Yazid Yasin(GK), Zulfadli Zainal (C), Syaqir Sulaiman, Kento Fukuda, Madhu Mohana, Shaiful Esah, Poh Yi Feng, Nikola Rak, Hafiz Nor, Ridhuan Muhamad, Jonathan Behe (Hafiz Rahim 90’)
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud(GK), Jufri Taha, Fahrudin Mustafic(C), Yasir Hanapi, Fazrul Nawaz, Jordan Webb, Izzdin Shafiq, Afiq Yunos, Hafiz Abu Sujad (Shakir Hamzah 90’), Irwan Shah, Billy Mehmet