Tampines Rovers emerged triumphant in a goal-filled match to beat Hougang United 6-4 on Wednesday evening at Jurong West Stadium.
The Stags were well ahead by half-time as they strolled to a 4-0 lead.
The first goal came when Ridhuan Barudin made a mess of his goal-kick and sent it straight to Billy Mehmet. The striker quickly played Shahdan Sulaiman through and the midfielder slotted past Ridhuan in the 27th minute.
Playing with the players that we have, I don’t think I can ask for more based on what they gave out
The lead was doubled five minutes later, with Fabian Kwok planting a firm header off Shahdan’s free-kick into the net.
Hougang’s misery was compounded in the 35th minute,when Jordan Webb escaped his markers’ attention to hit home Tampines’ third goal.
There was still time for one more goal before the break, after Sufian Anuar was fouled by Huzaifah Aziz in the box, and he duly dispatched the resulting penalty.
However, the Cheetahs came out fighting in the second half and could have pulled a goal back in the 51st minute after Fumiya Kogure spun around his marker before hitting a shot at goal, but Joey Sim pulled off a good save to deny the Japanese.
The visitors finally reduced the deficit in the 56th minute, when Kogure met Iqbal Hussain’s low cross to stab past Sim.
The gap was reduced to two goals after Jozef Kaplan flicked Wahyudi Wahid’s cross over Sim to make it 4-2.
It could have easily been another goal for the Cheetahs in the 72nd minute, but Stipe Plazibat headed just wide off Yusiskandar Yusop’s free-kick.
Just when things were looking up for Hougang, Huzaifah gave away another penalty and earned himself a dismissal for a second yellow card after fouling Shafie Muliantoh. The spot-kick was dispatched by Mehmet.
Tampines then restored their four-goal lead in the 83rd minute as Webb ran with the ball from the halfway line before squaring for Saifullah to slot home on his debut.
There was still more goals in store though, as Kaplan raced onto Plazibat’s pass to hit home from close range before the latter found the back of the net in the dying moments of the game.
Tampines coach Akbar Nawas was satisfied with the result but he believed there was room of improvement.
“I will not take away anything from the players,” Akbar said.
“Playing with the players that we have, I don’t think I can ask for more based on what they gave out.”
Hougang coach K. Balagumaran on the other hand was disappointed by the defeat, but he still found some positives to take away from the game.
“The next game we do well, we can go the semi-finals,” he said.
“Today outstanding players were Afiq Noor and Iqbal Hussain, if Iqbal can last for this 90 minutes, then it is good.
“I didn’t expect to concede four goals in this first half, sometimes it happens but I am taking it as an experience. This is the first time as a coach I am down 4-0 at half-time.”
Photos: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwocomments