Stags Comfortably Dispatch Tigers To Move Second
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Tampines Rovers returned into second spot in the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League standings after a 3-1 win over Balestier Khalsa at the Jurong West Stadium on Saturday night.
Strikes from Fazli Ayob, Ryutaro Megumi and Ivan Dzoni rendered Fadli Kamis’ late goal a mere consolation as the Stags notched their eighth win of the season.
Tampines dominated opening exchanges and came close after three minutes but Shahdan Sulaiman’s freekick was tipped wide for a corner.
At the other end, Kyaw Zayar Win had his shot charged down by Daniel Bennett from the edge of the box in the eighth minute.
The hosts were presented with another opportunity to draw first blood five minutes later but Megumi’s header off Bennett’s flick-on flew narrowly over the bar.
Aung Kyaw Naing then had a go from 25 yards after beating Madhu Mohana in the 27th minute but his effort sailed harmlessly wide.
Balestier custodian Zaiful Nizam went down low to parry Megumi’s low shot in the 35th minute, but there was no denying the Stags who scored two goals in the space of three minutes.
First, Fazli tapped home a low cross from Megumi at the far post on 38 minutes before Megumi got his name onto the scoresheet three minutes later with a shot that crept in at Zaiful’s near post.
Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic rang the changes at the break, bringing on Hanafi Akbar and Nanda Linn Kyaw Chit for Aung Kyaw Naing and Jonathan Tan.
And Hanafi could have reduced the deficit moments after coming on but unleashed a volley that went well over.
Jurgen Raab’s side would go three goals up four minutes after the restart when Dzoni picked his spot with a shot into the top right despite Zaiful getting a touch on the ball.
Clear chances were at a premium thereafter with Shahdan’s freekick that Zaiful gathered comfortably two minutes before the hour mark being the only notable one.
Substitutes Faizal Raffi and Jamil Ali combined and the former nearly found the net for Tampines, only to be denied by Zaiful in a one-on-one situation in the 80th minute.
The Tigers were handed a lifeline with eight minutes remaining when Fadli’s header off Zayar Win’s cross was dropped by Haikal Hasnol and went into goal.
The full-time whistle went soon after, leaving Balestier in search of their first victory since early April.
Tampines Rovers Head Coach Jurgen Raab: “The result was alright, although I was angry about the goal we conceded. I had also hoped we could have scored one or two more and our decision-making could have been better in certain situations.
“It was also not easy playing without Izwan (Mahbud), Joey (Sim) and (Khairul) Amri but all in all, I felt that it was a totally deserved win. The players had done very well against a side like Balestier and I’m satisfied.”
Balestier Khalsa Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “I was not satisfied with the result, I thought we should have done better. The performance wasn’t good enough. It was tough not playing after 17 days but that was no excuse.
“We were doing alright until we conceded the first goal, which was the turning point of the game. It could have been a different story had we not conceded that goal. The players lost concentration thereafter and it was difficult to recover from that.”
Tampines Rovers: Haikal Hasnol (GK), Fazli Ayob, Madhu Mohana (Jufri Taha 46’), Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Daniel Bennett, Irwan Shah, Shahdan Sulaiman, Son Yong Chan, Imran Sahib (Jamil Ali 74’), Ryutaro Megumi, Ivan Dzoni (Faizal Raffi 77’)
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Ashrul Syafeeq, Hanafi Salleh, Ahmad Syahir, Raihan Rahman, Huzaifah Aziz (Tajeli Salamat 63’), Kyaw Zayar Win, Hazzuwan Halim, Jonathan Tan (Nanda Linn Kyaw Chit 46’), Aung Kyaw Naing (Hanafi Akbar 46’)