Unbeaten Stags saved at the death

Reigning champions Tampines Rovers maintained their 100% unbeaten record after Khairul Amri came off the bench to rescue them with a late equalising goal against Brunei DPMM
By En Lim

League leaders Tampines Rovers returned to action at the Clementi Stadium on Tuesday night, scrapping a last gasp 1-1 draw with Brunei DPMM to remain top of the league.

The match started very cagily, with goalscoring chances coming few and far between. Tampines had the first real chance of the half after 10 minutes when striker Aleksandar Duric was put through one-on-one with the DPMM goalkeeper.

However, Duric’s lobbed shot narrowly missed the mark as goalkeeper Wardan Yussof did just enough to put off the former Singapore international.

Duric was once again at the forefront of Tampines’ attack 10 minutes later, after the 43-year-old deftly turned his back on the DPMM defence following an excellent through pass from Jamil Ali, only for his shot to go wide.

DPMM slowly settled in the game, with striker Joao Moreira their main attacking threat. The Portuguese almost opened the scoring with a fine header following Helmi Zambin’s pinpoint cross from the right flank, but was denied by Sasa Dreven.

The Bruneians’ patience was finally rewarded after 35 minutes when Moreira broke the deadlock, taking full advantage of a rebound from goalkeeper Dreven’s parried save, to make it 1-0 to the Wasps.

The second half started with DPMM making a substitution, as Adi Said came on to replace Azwan Ali who had been stretchered off just before halftime.

Adi nearly made an instant impact for his team, as he broke free from the Tampines defence just two minutes in, but his well-drilled shot found the safe hands of Dreven.

Controversy soon marred the game as DPMM substitute Adi Said was given a yellow card for simulation on 65 minutes. The referee’s decision left coach Vjeran Simunic furious on the bench, as Adi was adjudged to have dived in the penalty area following close contact with Stags defender Jufri Taha.

Soon it was all Tampines as they went in search of the equaliser. Jamil Ali jinked through the DPMM defence in the penalty area, only for his deflected shot to hit the post. That proved to be Jamil’s last contribution for the game, as coach Nenad Bacina tried to change things up by bringing on Khairul Amri.

Amri’s presence made the difference in the end for Tampines, as he scored the equalising goal in the dying minutes of the second half, following good work from Duric and Imran Sahib.

With a point in the bag, Tampines remain unbeaten at the top of the table, and next face second place Albirex Niigata, while DPMM will face Balestier Khalsa on April 19