Tampines extend unbeaten run after 1-0 victory
Right wing cross. Chance. Miss. Repeat.
That seemed to be on Tampines Rovers' agenda as majority of their attacking threats came from the right flank through Jermaine Pennant and Ismadi Mukhtar.
And although the routine worked on the 47th minute when Pennant's cross found Jordan Webb, who scored through a looping header into the top corner, it could have easily been a lot more if the latter and Fazrul Nawaz took more of their chances.
Throughout the first half, in-swinging crosses from the right-hand side duo were let down by the finishes of Webb and Nawaz. Balestier keeper Zaiful Nizam also proved to be a major obstacle for the duo as he continuously parried the headers from those crosses.
Zaiful’s biggest save perhaps came when he tipped over Pennant's powerful free-kick from 25 yards onto the bar as both teams went onto the break level.
Even when they had only Zaiful to beat, the Stags made things difficult for themselves by missing the target. Countering from a Balestier corner, Billy Mehmet received the ball and played a through ball to Nawaz, but somehow, he fired his effort wide.
Just after the break, Webb finally made amends as he latched onto Pennant’s cross to give the home side an advantage but the day would only get worse for Fazrul Nawaz, who missed another sitter.
Moments after the goal, Webb, Mehmet and Nawaz were three on one against a lone Balestier defender. When Webb swung the cross in for Nawaz, the winger managed to miss from six yards. He was later subbed off for Sufian Anuar.
Balestier on the other hand sat back for most of the game and their chances came through counter attacks.
Although many of their counters were fruitless, Jamil Ali will be frustrated that his effort on the 78th minute hit the bar instead of landing at the back of the net. The midfielder’s flick-on header from Smajovic Sadin’s cross was their best and only chance to draw themselves level.
The Tigers continue their poor start to the season as they are the only side to remain winless with Marko Kraljevic pointing to how luck is not on his side.
“I am upset. However much we defend, we didn’t have the killing touch, we are trying very hard but luck is not on our side.” said the 50-year-old.
He added: “We are hitting (the woodworks) every week, you know? And it just doesn’t want to go in. What choice we have? We can only work hard and perform.”
On the other hand, V.Sundramoorthy’s side picked up their fourth win from six games and are the only team yet to be beaten this season.
“We created about eight good chances and Balestier created about one or two so it should have been something like 5-2 if things went according to what football is about. As much as we didn’t convert the chances, it is good that we have a one-goal cushion.”
On Fazrul Nawaz's misses, Sundram added: “For me it happens, it happened to me when I was playing for the national team. When your first touch lets you down it will not be your day. He is a very good striker, look at the amount he has for the national team.”
The win sends the Stags to the top of the table and will meet Albirex Niigata (S) next week while Balestier are second last with three points as they travel to Brunei next week to play DPMM.