The Stags started off without regulars Noh Alam Shah and Qiu Li, who were out with a hamstring injury and stomach ailment respectively, and Santi Chaiyaphuak too, who was recovering from fever and listed as a substitute.
In came Ridhuan Muhammad and Aliff Shafaein up front to cover for the duo, while Satria Mad was given the go-ahead on the right of a four-man midfield.
Geylang, without their suspended forward Miroslav Latiak, had Rivaldo Costa returning from injury, and Lau Meng Meng returned to the starting eleven after missing the last game.
Tampines gave their visitors a scare right from the first minute, when Aliff put a through-pass to strike partner Amri, but the latter failed to get past the opposite defenders.
Geylang replied six minutes later through Rivaldo, who ran in from the right and sent in an ambitious shot, but it shaved past the crossbar.
Ridhuan gave Tampines fans an adrenaline rush at the 12th minute when he attempted to head past Geylang custodian Fajar Sarib, but he failed to hit the target as the assistant referee flagged for offside.
The 24-year-old raised the fans’ hope again shortly, but they were to be disappointed once more as he could only hit the side netting under pressure from national teammate Baihakki Khaizan, after a pass from Aliff forced Fajar out of his line.
Tampines missed yet another chance to go ahead of their rivals eight minutes later after Ridhuan let his team down once again by failing to connect a long cross from Sutee from the left with a header despite a high jump.
Geylang attempted to capitalize on their hosts’ inability to convert their chances with Rivaldo, who beats the offside trap but not himself as he shot directly at Rezal Hassan.
The ball deflected off Rezal to Noor Ali, but the latter did not do any better than Rivaldo by lashing out a screamer which eventually could only fly past the crossbar.
Fajar’s skills were put to the test when Ridhuan and Amri combined to present Aliff a chance, but he was quick to react to deny Aliff.
Ridhuan was destined to remember the night as one which lady’s luck was not by his side, this time denied by the post, as a poor clearance by Baihakki after Aliff missed the open goal with Fajar away presented the ball to him.
Tampines were eventually stunned at the 37th minute, when against the run of play, Rivaldo’s shot landed to Fazrul Nawaz who tapped in easily, much to the delight of the travelling Eagles fans.
The Stags could have equalized just two minutes later, but Fajar was on hand to keep his team safe as he flied out to catch a long shot from Ridhuan after a good run from the latter.
They did not have to wait long for it though, after Aliff crossed from the right to let Sutee tapped the ball into the back of the net just before the break.
Noor made a last-second attempt to restore his team’s lead while he tried to loop over Rezal, but with Rezal outstretched, the ball went over the bar instead, as the referee blew for the half-time whistle.
Geylang kicked off the second half with an opportunity which saw Luiz Machado Junior robbing Fathi Yunus of the ball. Junior then passed it to Fazrul, but the latter was not quick enough to react and saw it taken away from him.
Amri puts Tampines ahead for the first time in the game at the 52nd minute by shooting past Fajar into the bottom right corner of the net after a crazy dazzling solo run down the middle of the park.
Geylang’s chance of getting back into the game seemed to take a blow when Fazrul went down to the ground and had to be stretchered off to be replaced by Hafiz Rahim, who himself had missed out most part of this season due to injury.
However, Hafiz was not going to let anyone down by scoring his first goal of the season just 12 minutes later through a volley after Rezal failed to recover Noor’s free kick to equalize for the Eagles.
2-2 was the score at the 69th minute, and the match looked like it was going to be a see-saw game, but the turning point came just three minutes later which turned the tide completely to the Stags’ side.
Noh Rahman was shown the yellow card after tripping Tampines captain Fahrudin Mustafic. Sutee stepped up to take the resulting free kick, and from 25 yards out, he hit the ball directly onto the right post, which got deflected to the left and finally into goal.
It was a stunning shot Geylang never managed to recover from, and eight minutes later, the 30-year-old Thailand international was on the job again by running in to connect with Imran Sahib and then placing the ball clinically at the bottom left corner of goal, completing his hat trick of the night.
Amri completed the rout for Tampines a minute from time when substitute Santi looped the ball to the front, and the Singapore forward, who was played onside, gleefully skipped past Fajar who left the goal wide open for him to blast the ball into the net.
Tampines head coach Vorawan Chitavanich was obviously very delighted at his charges’ performance.
“We controlled the game in the first half with possession and good passing, but we missed many chances. We came into the second half and scored (to secure the win).
“Sutee played very well, and even without Qiu Li and Alam Shah, the other players have the quality to take over. They know what they want and what they can do.”
Geylang’s caretaker coach Lim Tong Hai was left to rue what went wrong for his side.
“We tried to contain them (Tampines), and we played quite decently in the first half. We had our fair share of the game, until their third goal in the second half. We tried to restrict their play, but we could have done better.
“We have to look at what problems we have, no matter individually or team, and rectify them. We will see how we can do better for the fifth spot (on the league table).”
When inquired about the extent of Fazrul’s knee injury, who had to be helped out of the stadium by his teammates, Lim revealed that it looked bad, and an appointment with the doctor had been made to investigate further.