Tampines Rovers 2 (Jamil Ali 66', Jonathan Toto O.G. 68')
Courts Young Lions 1 (Anaz Hadee O.G. 45')
Tampines Rovers snapped their two-match losing run with a 2-1 win over the Courts Young Lions at the Clementi Stadium on Thursday evening while at the same time, ended Young Lions' two-match winning run coming into this game.
According to Tampines coach Steven Tan, it was a 'deserved win' despite seeing his side going behind at the stroke of half-time when Anaz Hadee headed past his own 'keeper Sasa Dreven.
But to the relief of Tan, his side managed to pick up maximum points as Jamil Ali popped up with the equaliser on 65 before Young Lions forward Jonathan Toto diverted a Tampines corner into his own net two minutes later.
It was a scrappy first 20 to 30 minutes of the game from both sides as they struggled to make any headway. Credit however, has to be given to the Young Lions backline for their resolute and disciplined defending which kept the front three of Aleksandar Duric, Jamil Ali and Ahmad Latiff quiet.
The best chance of the first half went to the home side in the 24th minute. After nicking the ball off Al-Qaasimy, Imran Sahib expertly cut the ball back for Duric but to the relief of the beaten Syazwan Buhari, the ball was hacked off the line by defender Sheikh Hadi.
But tragedy struck for the Stags at the stroke of half-time. It was a combination of both poor communication and luck which saw the visitors taking a surprise lead despite being pegged back in their own half for large periods of the first 45.
Shahfiq Ghani's pass to the left for Sherif El-Masri did not seem to reach his man as Anaz Hadee intervened by attempting to head it back to Dreven. The shot-stopper was caught in no-man's land and could only watch the ball trickle into the back of the net.
Right after the restart, Jamil Ali sent his header wide from Gligor Gligorov's corner. On 56 minutes, Duric sent Jamil through down the left but the latter's low cross proved too weak as it was eventually cleared to safety.
Tampines threatened again in the 61st minute when Gligorov's chipped pass found Jamil in the area but Syazwan was quick to come off his line and prevented Jamil from taking a shot.
Jamil was not to be denied five minutes later when he made it one-all. A lapse in concentration allowed Ahmad Latiff to play Aleksandar Duric clear and he slid a pass across to Jamil Ali while he was on the ground as Jamil sent his shot into the bottom corner.
Just two minutes after the equaliser, Tampines made it 2-1 when Jonathan Toto headed home under pressure from Duric following Gligorov's corner.
In the end, it was enough for the home side to record a narrow win over their opponents as they moved to 4th in the league table on 20 points, one fewer than third-place Balestier Khalsa.
Tampines coach Steven Tan was clearly pleased after the game and said that his players 'showed character' especially after going one goal down.
Tan also stressed the importance of being consistent for upcoming games and hopes to see his side continue to produce good results.
'Gave our best'
Young Lions' Robin Chitrakar was on the other hand, disappointed with the result but felt that his players gave their all and were deserving of at least a point.
"Definitely, I think we did well enough to get at least a point. But then again, Tampines took their chances and credit has to be given to them."
Tampines Rovers: Sasa Dreven (GK), Ismadi Mukhtar, Benoit Croissant, Fahrudin Mustafic, Anaz Hadee, Imran Sahib (Ahmed Fahmie 65'), Gligor Gligorov, Sazali Salleh, Jamil Ali (Davor Piskor 85'), Ahmad Latiff, Aleksandar Duric (C) Unused subs: Jufri Taha, Fazil Zailani, Ali Hudzaifi, Syaiful Iskandar, Arif Ali
Courts Young Lions: Syazwan Buhari, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Fazli Ayob (Neil Vanu 88'), Shahfiq Ghani (Benjamin Lee 58'), Hafiz Sujad (C), Faritz Hameed, Sirina Camara, Aqhari Abdullah, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Sherif El-Masri (Faris Ramli 73'), Jonathan Toto Unused subs: Neezam Aziz, Shamil Sharif, Haniff Sadique, Tajeli Salamat
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