Stags Turn On The Style
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
It was a debut to remember for Shannon Stephen as his brace helped Tampines Rovers to a 4-0 win over Garena Young Lions in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League at Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday night.
The 23-year-old also created another as the Stags closed the gap at the top to nine points, albeit with a game in hand, and keep up the pressure on leaders Albirex Niigata (S).
But it was the Young Lions who started brightly as Ammirul Emmran fired over from a freekick on six minutes before Rusyaidi Salime saw his effort go wide five minutes later.
Tampines began to find their feet thereafter with an unmarked Ivan Dzoni heading straight at Zharfan Rohaizad off Daniel Bennett’s deep cross in the 13th minute.
It was a warning sign Young Lions failed to heed as the visitors took the lead three minutes later, with Shannon nodding home Dzoni’s right-wing delivery.
Ryutaro Megumi came close to doubling the lead for Tampines in the 19th minute but his curling effort was tipped over by Zharfan before captain Fahrudin Mustafic sent a header over moments later.
The hosts then nearly levelled matters on 21 minutes, but Taufik Suparno could only poke wide of Izwan Mahbud’s right-hand post after going through on goal.
Hafiz Sujad could have gotten his name on the scoresheet in the 26th minute but headed over at the far post.
Shannon would turn provider in the 37th minute, putting in an accurate cross for Dzoni to finish acrobatically.
Young Lions skipper Illyas Lee nearly reduced the deficit immediately at the other end with a shot with the outside of his boot, but it trickled wide instead as the Stags took a two-goal cushion into the break.
Jurgen Raab’s side continued from where they left off after the restart and made it 3-0 in the 58th minute as Shannon swept home the rebound after Megumi’s shot was parried into his path by Zharfan Rohaizad.
Dzoni could have added to his tally for the night in the 71st minute but his powerful volley came off the woodwork.
The Croatian was not to be denied however, as he guided Irwan’s cross home to complete the rout 13 minutes from time.
Tried as they might, but Young Lions were unable to put one past Izwan as they fell to another defeat.
With the result, Tampines sit second with 37 points in 17 games while Young Lions remain in ninth with three points in 15 matches.
Garena Young Lions Head Coach Vincent Subramaniam: “The boys looked really tired and were sluggish today. If you play a top side like that and if you don’t mark well and don’t tighten, we’ll pay the price for that.
“We lost 4-0 but we know where went wrong and I believe the team will get better. We play Hougang three days from now and hopefully the boys can recover and put up a better performance.”
Tampines Rovers Head Coach Jurgen Raab: “The performance today was pleasing considering we played on Saturday. It wasn’t easy but what they shown today was good.
“To be able to name Shannon in the starting lineup today was good. For Dzoni, I think he has understood what is necessary and he has the ability to become a good player in time to come.
“We have now won two straight games, which puts a bit of pressure on Home who have to win their matches.”
Garena Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Rusyaidi Salime, Illyas Lee (C), Amirul Adli, Jordan Chan, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Muhaimin Suhaimi, Ammirul Emmran (Ikhsan Fandi 28’), Muhelmy Suhaimi (Joshua Pereira 54’), Haiqal Pashia, Taufik Suparno
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Madhu Mohana, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Daniel Bennett, Shannon Stephen, Shahdan Sulaiman (Hafiz Rahim 84’), Hafiz Sujad (Son Yong Chan 73’), Irwan Shah, Ryutaro Megumi, Ivan Dzoni, Fazrul Nawaz (Fazli Ayob 61’)