Draw dampens Stags' title celebrations

Tampines were held by Tanjong Pagar in their final home game when the S.League trophy was presented to the league champions
Tampines Rovers celebrated their third Great Eastern-YEO’S S. League title in succession with a 1-1 draw against Tanjong Pagar United at Clementi Stadium on Saturday night.

After a game that was delayed due to the activation of the Lightning Warning System (LWS), Tampines went close to finishing their home programme on a winning note but were denied by the 10 men of the Jaguars, who had defender Zahid Ahmad sent off 10 minutes from time, after picking up a second caution.

Khairul Amri had netted in the 49th minute with a typically audacious lob from wide on the left. The pass had been supplied to him from the middle by Jamil Ali, who caught out an unprepared Tanjong Pagar defence with his quick release of the ball to Amri.

It had been an even game to that point with Herisson saving well from Vitor Ladeiras early in the first-half as well as from Amri, midway through the same period, while the Jaguars had Kamel Ramdani supplying some good balls in only for Monsef Zerka and his attacking partners to have no luck in reaching them.

Herisson probably made the save of the match in the 34th when Firdaus Kasman set up Anaz Hadee, whose rasping shot the French keeper saved with an athletic dive to his left.

Five regulars were missing from the Stags’ line-up, three suspended, Seiji Kaneko, Imran Sahib and Shaiful Esah, while Aleksandar Duric had a painful big left toe, cut badly in a domestic accident and Shahdan Sulaiman was out with an ankle injury. All of those named were clearly missed.

It would be fair to say that the continuing absence of injury-victims John Wilkinson, Hafiz Nor and Ismael Benahmed had a similar effect on the visitors, also missing was Sazali Salleh who is out for the season and missing now for some months.

The Jaguars fought back well from the early second-half punishment to draw level in the 67th.

Zahid Ahmed got away down the left and sent over a telling cross from near the byline. Ahmad Latiff delivered the ball back in again from the right and Monsef Zerka had a polished tap-in to make it 1-1 and keep his own Golden Boot hopes alive.