|FROM JALAN BESAR STADIUM
By Eddie Ridzwan
Tampines Rovers rallied to their sixth consecutive win on Friday night to stay on top of the S.League table with a 1-0 win over Home United, who suffered their third defeat of the season.
Protectors coach Lee Lim Saeng drew positives from the narrow defeat, and praised his team for a good performance.
“The result is my responsibility," he stated. "It was a good performance and I cannot blame the players [for the loss] as they already did their best.
"I believe we were largely the better team, even when we were reduced to ten men."
The Korean did not dwell on the referee's decision to award a penalty after Firdaus Idros had handled the ball on the goal-line, which Mustafic Fahrudin converted to win the game, and preferred to focus on helping his players to improve.
“In football, sometimes we lose and sometimes we win," Lee explained. "There are also a lot of things happening on the pitch. As a coach, I should respect the referee’s decision towards any incident in the game,”
“I believe my homework now is to help Masatao [Fukui] improve his performance and confidence. He did play well, but he has not scored yet."
Tampines Rovers coach Nenad Bacina was quick to admit that his side started slowly, which went against their plan of going in "aggressively".
“At this moment I do not know the reasons behind our slow start, it could possibly be the delay due to the lightning alert!" he joked, before giving credit to Home for playing well.
“I would [like to] congratulate Home United for a good display of football. It was not surprising to me as they are one of the biggest clubs in Singapore for many years. They play a fast game and were definitely motivated to play against us tonight.
The Croatian believes Home were a little "unfortunate" to not be able to convert their chances, but was glad his team adapted to the situation and ground out the win.
“It was good that we were able to survive and collect three points; sometimes, that is how you have to do it, particularly for a big club like Tampines," Bacina claimed.
“Of course we would like to enjoy good football but as you can see from Chelsea Football Club a few years back, these things happen and we have to adapt and be happy with a win. We are contented with six straight wins and it is important that we stay rooted to the ground.
“A performance like this is expected of top teams; not being able to play well yet collecting three points."
Home United will next travel to Toa Payoh Stadium to take on the Tigers of Balestier Khalsa, while Tampines Rovers will host struggling Hougang United at Clementi Stadium.