Tanjong Pagar had to face a very defensive Woodlands side who did well to keep them out, although a late mishap cost the visitors the full three points
Tanjong Pagar United played hosts to Woodlands Wellington in a rather cagey tie that ended in a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night at the Queenstown Stadium, leaving them still searching for a home win this season.
Both sides came into the S.League Round 8 match boasting victories from the last round but on that evening, strategies changed as Woodlands employed a defensive formation.
The Rams kicked off proceedings but were always on the back foot as Patrick Vallee’s men kept most of the possession.
Ismael Benahmed and Monsef Zerka were leading the Jaguars’ attack, but most of the crosses were either hit too hard or headed off target.
However, the closest chance of the first half came for the visitors through Moon Soon Ho. In the 19th minute, he broke away from marker Walid Lounis and placed the ball into the goal but to his dismay, the referee blew for a foul against him.
It was then clear for the rest of the half that Woodlands were parking the bus in defence, although it had to be said that they were brilliant in doing so.
The Jaguars’ offence was often broken down with ease even though Hafiz Nor was working his socks off on the right flank with his pace and fancy footwork.
In the closing minutes of the first half, Zerka found space at the top of the box but only managed to fire his shot straight at Shahril Alias, who was rock-solid in the Woodlands backline.
At the last second of the first period, Kamel Ramdani whipped in his umpteenth free kick and this time, a towering Benahmed fouled goalkeeper Ahmadulhaq Che Omar.
As the referee, blew for the second period, it was business as usual on either end – the Jaguars kept yanking forward while Salim Moin’s men blocked them out.
On the 57-minute mark, Ahmad Latiff got on the end of Zerka’s low cross from the right but the No. 8 could only look into the skies after he missed a golden opportunity by putting the bal over the bar.
The Rams then had the next good chance of the game in the 74th minute when Chang Jo Yoon turned away from K. Vikraman to shoot, but was unfortunate to find the side netting.
The Korean was in the thick of the action once again in the 84th minute and this time, it resulted in the first goal of the game. Rising higher than anyone else to meet Ang Zhi Wei’s beautiful cross from the right wing, Chang then watched as the ball hit the post and then rolled over the line, to the delight of the visting fans.
However, the home side fought back immediately to equalise in the next minute. Substitute goalkeeper Fearghus Lyle failed to hold onto Benahmed’s low cross from the right, and Zerka was on hand to tap in from close range for his league-leading seventh goal of the season.
With four minutes to go, Tanjong Pagar pressed on for a winner but the Woodlands defence was absolutely dogged in keeping them out.
Rosman Sulaiman picked up a second yellow card in the 87th minute, but the Rams continued to keep things tight at the back as both sides eventually shared the spoils.