Yasir's goal clinches full points for Tampines
GEYLANG INT'L 0
TAMPINES ROVERS 1
(Yasir Hanapi 28)
They took the lead inside the opening half-hour after early pressure, failed to add to their tally despite dominating proceedings, and then had to weather a storm as their opponents staged a fightback.
In the end, though, the three points were all that mattered for V Sundramoorthy, as his side snapped a two-game losing streak in all competitions, after a 1-0 win over derby rivals Geylang International in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League last night.
Yasir Hanapi was the Stags' hero after netting the only goal in the 28th minute, although the Eagles were left crying foul as they felt it should have been ruled out for offside.
Sundram preferred to focus on the positives for his team after a much-needed victory, ahead of next week's AFC Cup trip to Bangladesh's Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi.
"The three points were the most important thing for us… Never mind 1-0, I would have taken a 5-4 win," said the coach.
"We knew it would be a difficult game as Geylang are a good team, but we did well to control the game in the first half and even after the break, until the last 15 minutes when they started to really push forward.
"The win is important as it keeps us close to (leaders) Albirex (Niigata) and now puts pressure on them ahead of their game against Brunei DPMM (tonight)."
Tampines delivered the response Sundram would have wanted following back-to-back losses to Philippine side Ceres La Salle and Albirex last week, looking the more energetic team from the opening whistle.
They took the lead after good work by Hafiz Abu Sujad, who slid a neat pass into the path of the unmarked Yasir, who stabbed home.
Despite being deployed as a left back, Hafiz continued to be the visitors' most dangerous player as he constantly bombed forward, only to be let down by his forwards who failed to connect with his deliveries.
As the game neared its end, the hosts mustered a big push in a bid to salvage a point.
Shawal Anuar had two excellent chances but, on both occasions, he was unable to get his header on target, condemning the Eagles to their second defeat of the season.
Geylang's unhappiness with the officiating was clear at the final whistle but, having already been sent off for dissent last month, coach Hasrin Jailani wisely decided not to be overly critical of the referees.
"Right now, the one thing missing for us is a four-letter word: Luck," said Hasrin.
"It really plays an important part and I guess the other thing we're missing now is also momentum.
"Obviously, it's disappointing to lose because you can see it was an even game and, again, it (a refereeing decision) cost us… That goal changed the complexion of the game.
"Now, we just have to go back to the training ground and do the hard work, but I certainly don't think the boys played badly at all today."