Singapore Premier League • April 26, 2014

Tampines Save Point To Stay In Title Race


Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Tampines Rovers managed to salvage a 1-1 draw with Tanjong Pagar United in a televised Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday evening to keep their title hopes afloat as the defending champions found themselves on the back foot numerous times during the game.

The Stags, who fell 1-0 to Nay Pyi Taw at the AFC Cup in midweek, conceded on the stroke of half-time when Sebastien Etiemble finished off a swift counter-attacking move but Alam Shah equalised in the 67th minute to ensure his team a share of the spoils.

Hafiz Osman returned from suspension for the Jaguars while Tampines Rovers fielded a different back four as Shaiful Esah and Shariff Samat were left out of the starting eleven. Noh Alam Shah was also handed a start for the defending champions as he led their front line.

The game commenced at a frantic pace as both teams were presented with opportunities to score as they each pressed forward, knowing that they needed a good result from this encounter.

Etiemble’s freekick in the fourth minute was kept out by Tampines goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Jum’at before Miljan Mrdakovic clipped the bar with his effort three minutes later after managing to find space in the Jaguars’ defence.

Ruzaini Zainal threatened to break the deadlock in the 25th minute as he cut in before hitting a low shot which Hyrulnizam managed to turn round the post for a corner.

Firdaus Idros was next to come close on the half-hour mark but he blasted well over after Hyrulnizam punched an Etiemble cross into his path.

The hosts would find themselves ahead just before the break when Zerka sprung the offside trap and latched onto a through pass from behind and unselfishly squared it for Etiemble to slot home from close range.

Zerka could have added a second after the restart but Hyrulnizam was quick off his line to deny the forward in a one-on-one in the 55th minute.

That miss proved costly as an unmarked Alam Shah got onto the end of an Ang Zhiwei cross from deep to thump a powerful header past Herisson to level the proceedings.

Centre-back Norihiro Kawakami then rose to meet another Duric cross in the 70th minute but sent his header agonisingly wide of the post.

Despite their late pressure, Tampines were unable to find the winner with Mrdakovic coming the closest two minutes from time when he glanced a header wide at the near post as they settled for a point.

This result leaves Tampines in third place behind Warriors FC on 19 points and they trail leaders Brunei DPMM – who beat Balestier Khalsa 4-1 on the same day – by three points.