10-man Tampines Rovers did just enough to hold off the defending champions for a 2-1 win at Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium to keep up the pace at the top of the table.
It looked like Brunei DPMM were in for a long night against Tampines Rovers when Billy Mehmet and Jordan Webb scored in the first 15 minutes of the match.
However, the hosts had to dig deep with 10 men and see off a late scare to salvage all three points at Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium in Brunei.
Just before his goal in the 4th minute, Mehmet nearly opened the scoring within two minutes through a Fazrul Nawaz cross but put too much power behind the ball. The striker then made his chance count on the second attempt, this time connecting with Christopher van Huizen's cross.
His counterpart Rafael Ramazotti could have drawn DPMM level right after the goal but his effort sailed just past the post. Little did he know that that missed chance would come back to haunt DPMM when Webb doubled Tampines' lead with Van Huizen once again assisting the goal from a free-kick.
Coach V. Sundramoorthy had introduced the former LionsXII man alongside Fazrul Nawas, Izzdin Shahfiq and Irwan Shah back to the starting XI after the game against Ceres La Salle while resting Noh Rahman, Yasir Hanapi, Hafiz Sujad and Jermain Pennant.
His rotation policy paid dividends with the fresh legs in the side doing enough to seal a precious win.
Although finding themselves on the wrong side of a two-goal deficit however, last season’s S.League winners did not go down without a fight.
DPMM came back into the game in the 59th minute when Ramazotti found the back of the net from a Paulo Sergio free-kick.
They could have easily gone on to get a second goal and complete the turn around when Afiq Yunos was shown a second yellow card after bringing down Sergio. The sending-off could have had serious implications when Azwan Ali was denied not once, but twice, in the dying minutes by Izwan Mahbud.
Despite the possibility of a comeback being on the cards, the Wasps did not sting hard enough as the game ended in Tampines’ favour.
DPMM continue their shaky start to the season as the defeat puts them in fifth place while the Stags are now second with eight points.
Photo: S.League1 comment