- Singapore Premier League
SPL : Tanjong Pagar Utd prevent Tampines Rovers from catching up with top 3, with 2-2 draw!
(A moment of silence in memory of the recent passing of former Tampines Rovers manager, Francis Wong)
By Sadat Osman
Tanjong Pagar United FC (TPUFC) had to come from behind twice against Tampines Rovers FC (TRFC), at Our Tampines Hub (OTH) to draw 2-2 on Sunday evening (29 Aug).
The game was off to a slow start as Tampines were happy to hold on to the ball and play passes in their own half, while TPUFC were poor at maintaining any kind of possession. With both sides cancelling each other out in the opening stages, it took 17 minutes for the home side to open the scoring.
(Tampines' Irfan Najeeb scores - Photo by Tampines Rovers FC)
Captain Yasir Hanapi spotted Irfan Najeeb’s drifting run on the left wing from the opposite side of the pitch and tried to find him with a pinpoint cross. The unmarked No.23 had so much time and space to pick his spot, before heading the ball into the back of the net to grab his second goal of the season. 1-0 to the Stags.
(TPUFC's Shakir Hamzah - Photo by Football Association of S'pore)
The Jaguars were still in disarray after conceding, but they didn’t give up hope. At the 29th minute mark, the hosts showed their weaknesses in all its glory. TPUFC managed to equalise after the Stags were not able to clear their lines while defending a corner. The ball floated into the six-yard box and no one was there to attack it, nor defend it — it simply bobbled around in the danger area, before Shakir Hamzah unintentionally nicked it into the net, to make it 1-1.
(Tampines' Marc Tan scores - Photo by Tampines Rovers FC)
Despite levelling the scores, the visitors were unable to build on that momentum going forward, and that cost them. In the 32nd minute, Kyoga Nakamura threatened with a powerful shot from range – forcing a save from Zharfan Rohaizad. However, another 3 minutes later, the Jaguars were broken down once again. After a string of well-played passes, Yasir cleverly laid off a through ball from midfield to an onrushing Marc Tan, who took a couple of touches to find himself space inside the box, to shoot into the bottom left corner. It's 2-1 to the Rovers.
(TPUFC's Anaqi Ismit - Photo by Football Association of S'pore)
After conceding the 2nd time, the visitors found some urgency and were duly awarded with another equaliser, this time via Anaqi Ismit in the final minute of the first half. On loan from the Lion City Sailors, Anaqi was in the right place at the right time to pounce on a loose ball in the TRFC penalty box. And without hesitation, he blasted at goal, which ricocheted off Zulfairuuz Rudy’s palms and ended up at the back of the net. 2-2 at halftime!
The second half saw new introductions from both teams, with the intention of getting the win, but it was the Jaguars who looked like they wanted it more. Khairul Amri was a difference-maker for this side, especially in the final third of the match, where he orchestrated several attacks that could have easily resulted in goals.
In the 66th minute, Luiz Junior came very close when he connected with a cross that Shodai Nichikawa launched into the six-yard box. The Brazilian’s header had power, but it was too close to Zulfairuuz, who did well to parry the ball away.
Tempers flared in the closing minutes of the game, with the referee showing several yellow cards, and even a red one to Irwan Shah for his 2nd bookable offence. But with too little time on the clock, the sending off made no difference, as the score remained at 2-2.
The draw sees the Stags stay in fourth position in the SPL standings with 22 points, while the Jaguars sit in 5th spot with 17 points. Both sides will be in action after the international break; TRFC will play Hougang United FC at the Hougang Stadium on 11 Sept, while TPUFC visit Balestier Khalsa FC at the Toa Payoh Stadium a day later.
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!