The Japanese midfielder scored in the second half to give his side another famous victory, after shocking Home United last weekTanjong Pagar United repeated their heroic performance at the Queenstown stadium as they stunned high-flying Balestier Khalsa with a 1-0 win.
Takaya Kawanabe was yet again the Jaguar’s hero as he scored the deciding penalty in the 70th minute to give his side all three points. The midfielder also scored the winning goal in last week’s shocking win over Home United.
Despite having a sixteen-day long break and missing several key players including Goran Subara and Ridwan Jamil due to injuries, the visitors who were on a run of three consecutive win started the match strongly, with Patrick Paran and Kim Min Ho constantly creating trouble for the Jaguar defence.
The Jaguars had the first clear-cut chance of the game when Takaya’s pile driver from 25 yards out went inches wide in the 9th minute.
The lively Patrick then tried his luck in the 17th minute but his header from Ruhaizad Ismail’s corner went wide off the post.
Hafiz Osman then nearly got his team the lead in the 27th minute but the defender mis-kicked the ball with his acrobatic attempt in the box.
Ruhaizad then unleashed a 30-yard thunderbolt but Tanjong Pagar’s custodian Fajar Sarib was equal to it.
The Tigers then went on to dominate the game, but were denied either by last minute defending or by poor finishing.
Balestier continued the second half in similar fashion, having the better of the possession but failing to make anything out of it.
Paul Cunningham then tested Fajar with a 30-yard free kick in the 57th minute, which the keeper fumbled, but fortunately the thirty-five year old managed to gather it on the bounce.
The Balestier captain then executed a brilliant overhead kick from Ruhaizad’s corner in the 65th minute but Hanafi Salleh kept it off of the line.
Against the run of play, Tanjong Pagar then got a penalty in the 68th minute, after Balestier’s custodian Joey Sim brought Takaya down in the box, whilst coming off the line to clear the ball.
Referee Ahmad A’Qashah ordered a retake of Takaya’s successful conversion as players already charged into the box before he took it, but it made no difference as the Japanese slotted his second attempt brilliantly into the right-hand corner, making it 1-0 for the home side.
Balestier coach Darren Stewart then made a triple substitution at one go, sending on Andrew Tan, Tengku Mushadad and Chang Jo Yoon, and changing the formation to a 4-3-3, in an attempt to find the equalizer for the Tigers. With time running out, the Australian also pushed defender Paul up as a centre forward in the 82nd minute, with the team desperate for a goal.
Kim, Chang and Paul all had chances to score the equalizer but were all denied by the resolute Tanjong Pagar back line.
Time eventually ran out and with the win, the home side leapfrogged Woodlands Wellington and the Courts Young Lions to move out of the bottom three into tenth position. The Jaguars next visit the Rams at the Woodlands stadium next Friday.
For Balestier, they will need to put the defeat behind as soon as possible as they host big guns Brunei DPMM at the Jalan Besar stadium on Thursday.