A very unfamiliar sight was on the scoreboard at Toa Payoh, as the home side ran riot against the S.League leaders
|FROM TOA PAYOH STADIUM
By Eddie Ridzwan
Tampines Rovers found themselves in a very unfamiliar situation on Saturday evening, as they were ripped apart and mauled by Balestier Khalsa 4-0 at the Toa Payoh Stadium. It was only their second defeat of the season, and their second consecutive away loss as well.
The game hardly began like a classic. There were a total of three skied attempts from both sides in the first five minutes, which would have counted had this been a rugby conversion attempt.
The opening exchanges saw Shahdan Sulaiman and Mustafic Fahrudin get booked within two minutes of each other. The former then unleashed a dipping volley towards Zaiful Nizam, but the Balestier custodian was always on hand to stop it.
In the 35th minute, both teams had a player down each at opposite ends; Tengku Mushadad needed treatment at the sidelines, while Tampines custodian Sasa Dreven had to be replaced. This was to be the turning point of the game.
Four minutes later, Qiu Li broke the deadlock for the hosts.
Balestier won a freekick on the right hand side and Tengku whipped in a delivery that went into the hands of substitute goalkeeper Ridhuan Barudin. Much to Tampines' horror, the ball then slipped out of the 26-year-old's grasp and Qiu was sharp enough to tap the ball in.
With two minutes left in regulation time, the Tigers then doubled their lead courtesy of Kim Minho.
The Korean showed great control as he received a long ball from the right and found himself in a one-on-one situation with Ridhuan. His shot went straight into the upright, but the striker showed great awareness and composure as he hooked the rebound onto the ground, and the ball bounced above Mustafic Fahrudin on the goal line.
Misery was compounded for the visitors when Balestier scored two goals within 10 minutes of the restart.
Paul Cunningham saw his header go past the goalkeeper, while Park Kang Jin’s low drive from close range completed the rout.
Balestier eventually held on to record their biggest win of the current season, which also happens to be the first time they have scored more than three goals since 2006.