Defensive lapse costs Tampines full points
Stags miss out on three points after lapse in concentration
TAMPINES ROVERS 1
(Hafiz Sujad 69)
CERES LA SALLE 1
(Adrian Gallardo 88)
Tampines Rovers coach V Sundramoorthy was visibly disappointed after his side drew 1-1 with Philippine side Ceres La Salle in an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Group E tie at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
"It wasn't an easy game... we created some chances, they had their moments, and I believe we should have defended better," said the 50-year-old ex-Singapore international.
While Sundram believed his side missed out on all three points, a draw was a fair result in a scrappy match.
Visiting coach Franklin Muescan said before the game that he was looking for a point, and his Ceres side started brightly and were physically dominant against a Tampines outfit that was panicky in defence, outmuscled in the engine room and bereft of movement up front.
But the visitors could not turn their dominance into genuine chances in the first half, with Tampines goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud hardly troubled.
At the other end, the Stags' hotshot signing Jermaine Pennant managed to get the S.League side's only shot on target via a free-kick in the 28th minute.
The Stags' talented attacking pair of Jordan Webb and Pennant were mostly anonymous, while playmaker Shahdan Sulaiman was subdued, as Sundram started with a back five in defence.
He said: "We played the same way against Sheikh (Jamal Dhanmondi) and Selangor and it worked.
"In the second half we changed that to counter their extra player in midfield."
Tampines played well in spurts in the second half after the "Dazzler" switched to a four-man defence, and took the lead in the 69th minute.
Webb raced down to the byeline before sending a tempting cross into the six-yard box for Hafiz Sujad to easily bundle home.
Ceres howled for a penalty in the 73rd minute when Adrian Gallardo's cross hit Stags captain Ismadi Mukhtar's arm, but referee Ho Wai Sing of Hong Kong waved off the visitors' protests.
Ceres had the last laugh, though, when Gallardo caught the Tampines defence napping and equalised in the 88th minute.
The 28-year-old Spaniard was first to stab home a teammate's nod-on, leaving Izwan rooted to the spot.
Despite dominating the game in the first half, Ceres coach Muescan was satisfied and said: "Our plan was to play defensively and get one point... the boys gave their all and I am satisfied with the result even if we didn't convert all the chances we had. The result is an achievement for us."
Tampines stayed top of Group E with three games to go and Sundram said: "It was disappointing to lose points at home. We were 1-0 up with minutes to go, we were in an ideal position to wrap things up but for our lack of concentration.
"But we need to move on."
Meanwhile, in AFC Cup Group F action in Manila last night, Balestier Khalsa fell 1-0 to Kaya.
- TAMPINES: Izwan Mahbud, Ismadi Mukhtar, Noh Rahman, Shahdan Sulaiman, Jermaine Pennant (Kwon Jun, 89), Shakir Hamzah, Yasir Hanapi (Izzdin Shafiq, 79), Afiq Yunos, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Jordan Webb, Billy Mehmet
- CERES: Son Yong Chan, Juan Guirado, Bienvenido Maraa On, Manuel Ott, Adrian Gallardo, Paul Mulders (Marwin Angeles, 66), Martin Steuble, Louie Michael Casas, Kim Sang Min, Jeffrey Christiaens (Stephan Schrock, 83), Patrick Alcala Reichelt
- TNP Man of the Match: Manuel Ott
- Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi 3 Selangor FA 4