- Singapore Premier League
SPL : Lion City Sailors rise to the top of the table, after 2-1 win over Tanjong Pagar United FC!
(Lion City Sailors FC - Image from Live Stream)
By Sadat Osman
The Lion City Sailors (LCS) had to hold on to their slender lead to defeat a gutsy Tanjong Pagar United FC (TPUFC) side, to come away 2-1 winners in the Round 16 tie on Friday (20 Aug). With the win at the Jurong East Stadium, the Sailors leapfrogged Albirex Niigata (S) and climbed to the top of the Singapore Premier League (SPL), based on a better goal difference.
Tanjong Pagar United came into this match, with back-to-back wins over Albirex Niigata and Geylang International FC. And it didn’t take long from the first whistle for matters to heat up in this clash against the Sailors. With only 2 minutes on the clock, Jaguars defender Shakir Hamzah was lucky to get away with a handball inside the box despite shouts from the entire LCS frontline — the referee didn’t see it, and fortunately for the home side, there was no VAR available.
The Sailors did well to hold on to the ball, as they pushed forward from the left-hand side, trying to open up the Jaguars defence. But just like they did against the White Swans 2 weeks ago, TPUFC ensured that LCS had no way through. With the clinical touch missing for much of the opening stages, neither goalkeeper had any work to do, until the 23rd minute, when Reo Nishiguchi skied his effort over the bar.
(LCS' Haiqal Pashia - Photo by Football Association of Singapore)
20 minutes later, the visitors’ efforts finally paid off. Haiqal Pashia opened the scoring after he picked up a pass from way outside box and launched a swerving shot that rose first, before dipping into right bottom corner of the net. Standing 5 metres outside the penalty box, the No 25 saw Zharfan Rohaizad away from his goal-line, and Haiqal fired from long range. The fully outstretched Zharfan saw the ball late and had no chance to save. 1-0 to LCS.
The second half saw much of the same, with the Sailors forcefully playing a high-tempo game, as the Jaguars matched them almost at every instant. As the clocked ticked on, spaces opened up for both sides – with either side having changes at goal, but nothing too intense to trouble any of the goalkeepers between the sticks.
(LCS' Jorge FelLipe - Photo by Lion City Sailors FC)
In the 55th minute though, the visitors doubled their lead through Jorge Fellipe, who bagged his 3rd goal of the season. Off a Shahdan Sulaiman freekick, Stipe Plazibat headed the ball into the six-yard box for the Brazilian to bundle the ball over the line from close range, making it 2-0 to LCS.
(Tanjong Pagar's Luiz Junior - Photo by TPUFC)
Despite being 2 goals down, the fight in TPUFC remained strong and they eventually pulled one back in the 77th minute via their own Brazilian talisman, Luiz Junior. He stepped over a freekick just outside the penalty area, and used good technique to lift the ball over the wall and into the net for his 10th of the season.
The Jaguars were on fire at this point as they constantly pushed the LCS forces back with countless attacking plays. But just when it looked like an equaliser was on the cards, the Sailors did well to hold on and earn a well-deserved win.
LCS Coach Kim Do-hoon’s men climb to the top of the SPL with 34 points, level with ANFCS, but they hold a superior goal difference — 25 as opposed to the White Swans’ 21. And despite the loss, the Jaguars remain 5th in the table with 16 points. In Round 17, the Sailors will host Hougang United FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium on 27 August, while TPUFC travel to Our Tampines Hub on 29 Aug to face off against Tampines Rovers FC.
Sadat Osman had a 10-year career in the publication industry, where he covered several beats including current affairs, food, fishing, music, and football. As the former chief editor at Goal.com and a fan of Newcastle United FC since 1996, Sadat also had a trial as a goalkeeper at Tanjong Pagar United FC. But today he remains a frequent social player of the game, who fancies Lionel Messi. However, Sadat's playing style is unfortunately similar to that of Titus Bramble!