The Rams pulled off a huge upset against the reigning S.League champions as goals from Chang Jo Yoon and Atsushi Shimono gave them only their second victory of the season
Woodlands Wellington pulled off a major upset on Friday evening as they beat S.League champions Tampines Rovers 2-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday evening.
Goals from Chang Jo Yoon and Atsushi Shimono gave the Rams only their second victory of the season as they kept the Stags at bay for majority of the game.
Tampines did score a consolation goal through Shahdan Sulaiman, but they were unable to make their dominance count against a resolute Woodlands defense.
It was an exciting start to the match as both sides tried to carve out an opening, with Noh Alam Shah coming close first for the Stags on six minutes. Running on to Aleksandar Duric’s perfectly weighted through ball, the striker found himself one-on-one with Yazid Yasin, who stood his ground to make a good block.
However, Woodlands looked more likely to score and they did just that a few minutes later. Chang got onto the end of Taufiq Ghani’s pass inside the penalty box and placed a curling effort into the top corner beyond Hyrulnizam Juma’at’s reach.
Tampines then started to dominate and tried to muster an opening, but they struggled to break down the Rams’ defense.
Their best chance of the match came on 37 minutes as Anaz Hadee’s cross from the right found Alam Shah, but Yazid made a point-blank save to tip the ball onto the bar.
They had another opportunity four minutes later when Duric’s knockdown found Alam Shah again, but he failed to properly connect with a volley with his back facing the goal, allowing Yazid to punch the ball to safety.
Moon Soon Ho could have doubled the Rams’ lead just before the break after finding himself through on goal, but he was denied by a last ditch tackle from Anaz.
Tampines didn’t have to wait long to get the equaliser after the break, although they were fortunate with how it came about. Duric’s through ball five minutes after the restart was uncharacteristically fumbled by Yazid as it bounced in front of him, and Shahdan had a simple tap in to draw his side level.
But their lead lasted a mere five minutes as Woodlands responded in stylish fashion. Another fine ball from Taufiq released Shimono down the right and the Japanese midfielder coolly slotted the ball beneath Hyrulnizam’s legs to regain the lead for his side.
Mustafic Fahrudin and Alam Shah both went close for the Stags, but the former’s effort went wide while the latter’s shot was parried away by the Woodlands custodian.
Their best chance to salvage a point came eight minutes from time when Ismadi Mukhtar’s cross found Duric inside the six yard box, but the veteran striker somehow headed over from close range as Woodlands clung on for all three points.
The Rams' performance had coach Darren Stewart at a loss for words after the game as he hailed his players' efforts.
“I’m so proud of the boys, it’s incredible,” the Australian said at the post-match press conference.
“It looked like we had 15 players out there with the way we worked. Words don’t describe the way we worked tonight without the ball. Our work rate was unbelievable. I’m pleased with every single player that was in that squad today.
Salim Moin, on the other hand, lamented his side’s complacency as they lost the chance to regain top spot in the league.
“Of course I’m very disappointed,” he said. “My team is overconfident. I told them they needed to be consistent. We dominated the game, but we forgot how to defend. They are big enough to know what is important. I always believe that the champions can be beaten.”
Despite the disappointment of the result, Salim immediately shifted the focus on his team’s huge clash against Myanmar side Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday.
“Let’s forget about the game tonight,” he said. “Next Tuesday will be an important game. When we play the AFC Cup match, definitely there will be a different kind of players and attitude for sure. I know they will come back. Come Tuesday you’ll see a different set of players.
“It’s a very important game not just for the club but for Singapore football. If we manage to go through I will feel very proud and I’m going to do this for Singapore football.”