Tampines Rovers kept pace with Albirex by registering their fifth straight win against Harimau Muda B
On a windy evening at the Clementi Stadium, Tampines Rovers welcomed Harimau Muda B team for the round five S.League tie that saw the home side win 2-1.
Goals from Aleksander Duric and Shahdan Sulaiman settled the game for the Stags and a late goal from Akmal Ishak for the Young Tigers was not enough to spark a comeback.
The defending champions came out with a change in captaincy, Shahdan Sulaiman taking the armband, and kicked-off with an out-of-sorts Aleksander Duric up front.
The evergreen striker was struggling for pace against a quicker Young Tigers side but managed the first chance of the game in the in third minute only to see his effort deflected over the bar.
The Stags came close just seven minutes later through a Shahdan free kick from 40 yards out which was just inches wide of the left post although Ilham Amirullah looked like he had it covered.
The visitors had their first opportunity in the 13th minute as Ridzuan Abdunloh pounced on a deflected clearance but his left-footed volley went far off-target.Khairul Amri had the Stags’ next best opportunity when he met a long ball from Anaz Hadee in the 21st minute. He shimmied his way to the danger area and cut past the goalkeeper and a defender before taking a shot but it was blocked off the line by Osman Yusoff.
With both sides somewhat even at the break, the score remained 0-0.
Razip Ismail’s forces started the second period on the back foot as the home side came out with all guns ablaze.
Tampines kept knocking on the door and finally broke the deadlock at the 54th minute mark when Shaiful Esah found an unmarked Duric in the box who made no mistake to head home from six yards out.
The Young Tigers looked like they woke up after conceding but a more determined Stags dominated the second period and doubled their lead 25 minutes later.
A clearance from the Tampines half bounced into the Harimau Muda penalty area and Shahdan met the loose ball before picking his spot to slam home a right-footed volley into the back of the net for their second of the night.
The visitors had a whisper of a chance minutes from time to pull one back after a goal-mouth scramble.
Akmal Ishak put the ball in from close range but it was Nenad Bacina’s men who held on for a 2-1 win to overtake Albirex Niigata (S) on the top of the S.League standings.