Experience proved the key in this clash and despite a dogged performance by the Young Tigers, they failed to overcome the experience of their adversaries Tampines RoversA gutsy display proved insufficient as the Young Tigers succumbed to their first defeat at the Yishun Stadium against their more illustrious opponents Tampines Rovers in an enthralling match that saw 5 goals scored in the second half.
The 3-2 win means that the Stags climb to third in the table, leapfrogging Harimau Muda, courtesy of a better goal difference.
Billed as a clash of two attacking powerhouses, the match failed to live up to its expectations in the first half in which the home team could not penetrate the resolute Rover’s defence despite having plenty of possession. On the contrary, Tampines Rovers looked more threatening when they had the ball and the visitors piled on the pressure as the half wore on.
The best chances of the half fell to the away team. In the 26th minute, the loose ball from a corner kick fell to Benoit Croissant at the edge of the box but his effort was deflected just wide.
The minutes preceding half time saw a header from Benoit Croissant cleared off the line only to find Ahmad Latiff but the latter’s shot failed to test the keeper.
Subsequently, after some nifty footwork, Jamil Ali laid the ball out to the flank to Imran Sahib, and ran into some space in the penalty box. Ali whipped in a teasing cross to the unmarked Sahib but the latter failed to direct his header to the goal.
The drab first half paved way for an exhilarating second that saw the home side take a lead within 7 minutes of the whistle when Thamil Arasu swivelled with the ball at the edge of the box and curled a shot that took a lucky deflection and crept into the far corner.
Ten minutes later, Harimau Muda claims for a penalty went on deaf ears and seconds later Tampines Rovers were awarded one of their own, much to the bemusement of the home fans, as Jamil Ali was adjudged to have been fouled in the box. Fahrudin Mustafic stepped up and calmly slotted home the penalty to draw the game level.
Minutes later, Ismadi Mukthar sent the visitors into the lead when he brilliantly bent a shot into the far corner from the edge of the box.
Harimau Muda refused to yield and their persistence paid off when substitute Syahrul Azwari rose high above his marker 5 minutes later to plant a header past the rooted Sasa Dreven.
The joy was short-lived though, as just three minutes later, an inspiring run through midfield by Jamil Ali saw him exchange passes with Ahmed Fahmie and score the goal that brought the curtains down on a provocative affair at Yishun Stadium.
Experience proved key as a dogged performance by the Young Tigers failed to overcome the experience of their adversaries.