The defending champions maintained their unbeaten start to the season and went five points ahead of second-placed Albirex Niigata (S) with a solid display at home
Tampines Rovers had little difficulty in seeing off the challenge of Woodlands Wellington at Clementi Stadium on Saturday evening, a dominant display leading them to a comfortable 3-1 victory.
The Stags made a highly positive start, creating a chance as early as 30 seconds into the match.
They maintained that early pressure and grabbed a fourth-minute lead through Imran Sahib, who swept home Aleksandar Duric’s crisp cut-back from the left byline.
Duric and left-back Shaiful Esah had exchanged passes down the left passage before the former accelerated with a sheer burst of speed to dash past the last defender to set up Imran, who came steaming in at the far-post. Woodlands goalkeeper Yazid Yasin had tried in vain to reach the cross before the Tampines winger could connect, and was helpless to prevent the goal.
Tampines continued to create chances and should perhaps have taken more than a 1-0 lead into the half-time break.
They began the second half with as much energy as they had begun the first, extending their lead in the 46th minute.
Imran turned provider this time, dashing to the right byline and cutting the ball back to the middle, where Sead Hadzibulic stroked the ball home with ease.
The 2-0 lead was fully deserved but had the likes of Khairul Amri, Duric and Hadzibulic been more clinical in the first-half, Woodlands might have been facing a far greater deficit.
Things took an even worse turn for the Rams when former Tampines defender Shariff Samat was dismissed by referee Muhd Taqi Jahari after a clattering tackle on Khairul Amri just outside the penalty area four minutes into the second half.
Any hopes of a Woodlands revival were virtually dashed when they went down to 10 men at that point, though Rams coach Salim Moin did his best to make a game of it by bringing on the versatile Goh Swee Swee for defender Hidhir Hasbiallah in the 67th minute and introduced both Farizal Basri and Farouk Farkhan over the final 15 minutes or so.
The Stags continued to hold sway against the visitors though and Duric, who had missed some real sitters earlier, atoned with a simple finish in the 88th minute to make it 3-0.Woodlands were not finished either, coming back to score a late consolation through Farouq as stoppage-time began to tick away, but by then the home side had done enough to extend their lead at the top of the table to five points.