Tampines end Home’s unbeaten run to claim fourth successive win

Tampines Rovers put behind their AFC Cup exit and gave Home United their first league loss of the season after a 3-2 win at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday evening. 

It was the Stags’ fourth straight win in the league and in the process they ended Home’s seven-game unbeaten run to overtake the latter in the league standings to go second with 18 points. Home are now in third spot with 15 points.

“We are proud ... that we could beat this strong team from Home, they are seven games unbeaten,” Tampines coach Jurgen Raab said. “So it is good success for us, especially for the championship, we are in a good shape now.”

The Protectors rested league’s top scorer Stipe Plazibat and others with an eye on the AFC Cup ASEAN zonal semi-finals, but they still took the lead in the game.

The first goal (by Home) came from nothing, that’s always difficult to come back from

- Tampines coach Juergen Raab

Amiruldin Asraf opened the scoring after Song Uiyoung brilliantly threaded a ball through into his path and he beat Joey Sim with a well-taken shot in the 12th minute.

Little did Home expect to be hit back with three goals and Raab praised his Stags for their reaction.

“It was high class football match, with much pace, intensity and good football from both sides,” Raab said.

“Important was the reaction of our team, the first goal (by Home) came from nothing, that’s always difficult to come back from. But we were highly motivated. Today the reaction was fantastic, we turned the match around and the lead was totally deserved.

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Amri equalised for the Stags

But the Stags were easily the more threatening of the two teams and could have easily taken the lead in the seventh minute, only for Home goalkeeper Hassan Sunny to beat away Ryutaro Megumi’s snapshot.

Khairul Amri then missed his header from Shahdan Sulaiman’s corner in the 15th minute but he made amends the diverting the latter’s delivery into the bottom corner in the 31st minute.

Tampines went on to take the lead in the 41st minute, with Ismadi Mukhtar running onto Yasir Hanapi’s pass down the right channel and he crossed for Shakir Hamzah to slam the ball home first time. 

It became 3-1 just before the break, with Shahdan providing another superb delivery from another corner for Daniel Bennett to head in at the near post.

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Christopher Van Huizen could not do much against a resolute Tampines

Chances dried up after the break and the nearest goalmouth action came in the 64th minute, as Megumi saw his long-range effort whistle over the bar.

A goal finally came when Home centre-back Abdil Qaiyyim made a rare foray forward and found Amiruldin with a clever through ball, before the striker slotted through Sim’s legs to make it 3-2 in the 81st minute.

Unfortunately for the Protectors, that was about as good as it got despite piling on the pressure towards the end of the game.

That’s football, we tried to keep our unbeaten run, but today we failed. But you know we have to look forward, there’s nothing else we can do

- Home coach Aidil Sharin

Home coach Aidil Sharin admitted it was a gamble to rest several key personnel but was adamant it should not be used as an excuse.

“It was a good game, first half was one game, second half was another game but I still have to congratulate Tampines for beating us,” Aidil added.

“Teams will always come back at any time, so once we lose our concentration we will get punished, especially against a team like Tampines. They have to learn, it's still early in the season.

“That’s football, we tried to keep our unbeaten run, but today we failed. But you know we have to look forward, there’s nothing else we can do.”

Photos: S.League