Tampines slip in title race
Midfielder's goal for Hougang gives his old club Albirex the advantage in title race
TAMPINES ROVERS 1
(Jordan Webb 45+2)
HOUGANG UNITED 2
(Stipe Plazibat 22, Fumiya Kogure 90+2)
He helped Albirex Niigata win the RHB Singapore Cup and TNP League Cup last season.
And, even though he doesn't play for the White Swans any more, Fumiya Kogure might have won them this year's Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title.
Last night, in the colours of Hougang United, the 2015 S.League Player of the Year dealt a hammer blow to Tampines Rovers' title hopes after firing home an injury-time goal to down the Stags 2-1 at the Jurong West Stadium.
The result leaves Tampines a point behind league leaders Albirex, with the Japanese side having a game in hand.
Should Albirex beat second-from-bottom Balestier Khalsa tomorrow night at the Jalan Besar Stadium, the gap between the two teams would be stretched to four points.
NOT OVER YET
With just five games to go till the end of the season, Tampines' hopes are fading fast. But their coach, Akbar Nawas, refused to throw in the towel in the race for the title.
"If they win, it'll still be just four points," he said.
"We need them to only draw a game and then it's down to the last game between us and them (on Oct 28)."
Last night, Hougang drew first blood through Stipe Plazibat, who fired home from close range after getting on the end of a low cross by Jozef Kaplan in the 22nd minute.
Tampines pulled level through a Jordan Webb header off an Izzdin Shafiq free-kick in first half added time.
In the second half, both teams came close to taking the lead, but were denied by superb blocks on either end of the pitch.
Stags fullback Jufri Taha first flung his body to deflect Plazibat's shot onto the post, before Hougang defender Delwinder Singh managed to get in the way of Billy Mehmet's goalbound shot.
It was Kogure, however, who made the difference in injury time, latching on to a long pass by Iqbal Hussain, and finishing low across Tampines' national goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud.
To add salt to the wound, the Stags are likely to be without their first-choice strikeforce for the immediate future.
National striker Fazrul Nawaz appeared to twist his knee in the 78th minute and had to be stretchered off, and was whisked away by an ambulance for an MRI scan after the game.
And Mehmet was flashed the red card by referee Sukhbir Singh after the game, according to Akbar.
The coach said he did not know what the red card was for, but said he would take the defeat "positively".
"We rode our luck in the last two games," he said.
"So even though we lost today, I take it positively, as we can flush it out of our system and look forward to the next game.
"Credit to Hougang, they played well, but we made too many errors."
Hougang coach G Balagumaran, meanwhile, was over the moon.
"I did not expect that late goal, because we told Iqbal to keep hold of the ball," said the coach.
"But he has the ability to play a good outside-foot pass and he played a great killer ball, and it was a great goal from Fumiya. It was out of this world."
- TAMPINES: Izwan Mahbud, Jufri Taha, Mustafic Fahrudin, Afiq Yunos, Irwan Shah (Shakir Hamzah 46), Yasir Hanapi, Izzdin Shafiq, Jordan Webb, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Fazrul Nawaz (Sufian Anuar 78), Billy Mehmet.
- HOUGANG: Ridhuan Barudin, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari, Delwinder Singh, Raihan Rahman, Ali Huzaifah, M Anumanthan, Afiq Mat Noor (Nurhilmi Jasni 88), Jozef Kaplan, Fumiya Kogure, Stipe Plazibat, Iqbal Hussain.