Singapore Premier League • August 23, 2014
Tampines Falter Against Tanjong Pagar
Written by: Khalis Rifhan
Tampines Rovers’ Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title defence hit a snag as they were handed a 1-0 defeat by Tanjong Pagar United on Friday evening at the Clementi Stadium.
The only goal of the game came in the dying minutes of the first half when Sebastien Etiemble cleverly squeezed past Abdil Qaiyyim before slotting the ball beyond the hapless Justin Pasfield.
Despite missing Kamel Ramdani and Monsef Zerka through suspension, Patrick Vallee’s side were determined to deny the Stags a spot at the top of the standings. Tampines had started the day on second spot, two points behind league leaders Brunei DPMM and a win here would have seen them overtake their fellow title chasers.
With captain Ahmad Latiff leading the frontline, the Jaguars started the match with fire in their belly and caused panic to the Tampines’ defence on several occasions in the opening exchanges.
While there was not much goalmouth action soon after, the middle of the park saw intense battle between Stags’ Jacob Butler and Tanjong Pagar’s Tengku Mushadad. The duo stamped their authority in midfield, denying a smooth passage through to the final third for either side.
Trailing by a goal, Tampines coach Rafi Ali made a double swap at halftime, bringing on Noh Alam Shah and defender Kunihiro Yamashita for Ismadi Mukhtar and Qaiyyim respectively. Yamashita’s presence brought stability at the back while Alam Shah proved to be a headache for Tanjong Pagar.
Still unable to find the elusive equaliser, the hosts brought on evergreen striker Aleksandar Duric with 20 minutes to go as they tried to find a way back into the game.
The 44-year-old’s experience enabled him to wriggle his way past his markers down the left side as he sent in deadly crosses into the box. Unfortunately, those attacks did not yield any positive results as they were met with fierce resistance from Jaguars’ in-form custodian Aurelien Herisson.
Over at the other end, the visitors could have doubled their lead but Sazali Salleh’s long range attempt hit the underside of the bar and into Pasfield’s hands.
Tampines had another chance to salvage a point 12 minutes before the end but Duric’s looping header at the far post missed the target.