The FFT S.League Takeaway: Protectors back amongst frontrunners while DPMM reclaim top spot

FFT Singapore’s Kenneth Tan rounds up all the action as we look back on an colourful eighth week of the 2014 S.League season...

DPMM show championship-winning form

DPMM returned to the summit of the S.League after last Wednesday’s narrow victory over Hougang United.

The team from Brunei showed a different side of themselves in Round 8 - they don't only know how to play pretty football, but can win ugly as well.

After scoring goals for fun against arguably two of the weakest sides in the league, Steve Kean’s men had to rough it out against the gritty Cheetahs who have proved to be giant-killers this season. They were under the cosh for much of the game, but came up with the goods when it truly mattered. 

Youngster Azwan Ali Rahman rose the highest to nod home substitute Najib Tarif’s cross, sending them to the top of the table. After a minor blip in form which saw them drop four points in two matches, they have now won three on the trot.  

DPMM will look to keep their place at the top when they take on an out-of-sorts Balestier Khalsa side next.

Match Details: Hougang 0 DPMM 1

Mar-velez Warriors are truly the dark horses  

Nothing can stop Warriors FC right now, can they?

After a nice three-game unbeaten run against sides which finished in the top half last season, Alex Weaver’s men duly extended that to four with an emphatic 4-0 trouncing of Albirex Niigata (Singapore).

Much has been made of Miroslav Pejic’s goalscoring abilities, but the hotshot proved that he is equally capable of setting them up as well. Fellow attacker Nicholas Velez was the beneficiary of the 28-year-old’s unselfish turn, with three of his four goals coming off Pejic's passes.

The wide array of finishing skills displayed by the Argentinian proved that the Warriors are not entirely dependent on Pejic to hit the back of the net.

They are now just two points off the pace at the top and if they continue to show such blistering form, there is no reason why they can’t be the amongst the frontrunners at the business end of the season.

Match Details: Albirex 0 Warriors 4

Ruthless Protectors add to Jaguars' gloom

The dark clouds on Tanjong Pagar United’s horizon do not seem to be clearing just yet.

Their bid to get a third win in eight matches couldn’t have gotten any tougher, given the quality of the opposition as well as the suspensions to key players like Hafiz Osman and Asraf Rashid.

When defensive lynchpin Anthony Aymard was forced off early through injury in this game against Home United, the task was made almost impossible.

Just like their recent games, the Protectors were in ruthless mood and duly put the Jaguars to the sword. After holding a 1-0 lead at the break, they added goals through a brace from Kwon Da-Kyung and an easy finish from the on-form Izzdin Shafiq.

While Patrick Vallee’s side remain in the bottom three, it is an entirely different mood in the other camp. After a rough start to the season, Lee Lim Saeng’s men find themselves just three points off the pace at the top.

Match Details: Home Utd 4 Tanjong Pagar 0

Home United defender Kwon Da-Kyung scored two goals in their 4-0 win over Tanjong Pagar. Photo: Weixiang Lim

SEE ALSO Photo Gallery: Home United 4 Tanjong Pagar 0

Rejuvenated Eagles show spirit once again

The Jorg Steinebrunner effect continues to work wonders for Geylang International.

For a second successive week, the Eagles came back from a first-half deficit to recover some points.

They went a goal down in the first half after a superb finish from Balestier Khalsa hotshot Goran Ljubojevic, but rallied together thereafter to salvage a result. Front man Leonel Felice was unlucky to see a spectacular scissor-kick effoty cannon off the post, but made amends 13 minutes from time as he nodded home Yuki Ichikawa’s flick-on from a corner.

That makes it five games without defeat for the new gaffer as they continued their bid to finish in the top half. With the players looking revitalised under his charge, that target does not look as far-fetched as it seemed after a horribly poor start to the season.

Match Details: Balestier 1 Geylang 1

No happy reunion for Salim as the Rams come up trumps

In our S.League preview last week, we asked if Salim Moin could come out with the right tactical plan to break down former employers Woodlands Wellington.

The answer was a resounding no as opposite counterpart Darren Stewart outwitted the current Tampines Rovers gaffer in last Friday’s televised fixture.

Full-back Andy Ahmad was played on the left side of attack while unheralded Shafuan Sutohmoh was deployed as the playmaker. Meanwhile, Taufiq Ghani sat back in midfield and was at the heart of two moves which brought down the Stags.

A chipped pass led to Chang Jo-Yoon scoring a classy opener in the first half, before a nice through ball carved open the defence en route to Atsushi Shimono’s eventual winner.

The much-debated defensive frailties proved the difference again as the Rams could have even won by a better margin if not for some missed chances. Upfront, the gamble to start with Noh Alam Shah ahead of top scorer Miljan Mrdakovic also did not pay off.

For now, Salim has much to ponder upon ahead of next week’s clash against Tanjong Pagar.

Match Details: Tampines 1 Woodlands 2

First win for the Young Lions, finally!

CYL are finally off the mark.

The class of 2013 took all of 13 games to get their first victory, but Sahil Suhaimi and company ensured that did not happen this time round.

There is nothing better than a mini Causeway Derby to fire up the players after some poor displays and true enough, the Young Lions showed their desire to taste victory for the first time in 2014.

They twice took the lead but were pegged back on both occasions by the plucky Young Tigers. The Singaporean lads also had to play with ten men for the majority of the second half after Sheikh Abdul Hadi was sent off for a second bookable offence.

But Aide Iskandar’s boys showed signs of maturity to deal with those setbacks and eventually found a winner through a Jordan Webb header.

A gutsy all-round display coupled with their first three points should set the national development side up nicely for their next challenge against an impressive Warriors side.

Match Details: Harimau Muda 2 Young Lions 3

CHECK OUT FFT's Team of the Week - Round 8