SPL 2022: Sailors back to winning ways with 2-1 win over Tampines Rovers

Sailors call on samba magic from Pedro to secure all 3 points against the Stags

PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Singapore, 24 July 2022 - Following two draws in their last two games, Lion City Sailors were looking to change their fortunes with a win against Tampines Rovers at the Jalan Besar Stadium.


The last time these two teams faced each other, the Sailors went away with all 3 points in an entertaining 4-0 win, with Tampines showing a positive start in the first half with their high-intensity play.

PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Both sets of fans came up with their strong voices to cheer their teams on in a must-win game for both groups of players.


Lion City Sailors make five changes to the team that drew with Geylang International last week with their big names Kim Shin Wook, Maxime Lestienne and Gabriel Quak on the substitute bench with Kim Do Hoon looking to the likes of Diego Lopes, Faris Ramli and Haiqal Pashia to get the job done.


More match photos from the Lion City Sailors vs Tampines Rovers match available in our photo gallery here.

The Stags also made wholesale changes to their starting eleven that faced Young Lions in their 5-2 win at Our Tampines Hub. Taufik Suparno and Irwan Shah made the bench as coach Gavin Lee set his team up to go on the attack from the very first whistle.


That was to be the case as the Stags looked the more confident out of the two sides from the get-go, with the game plan being to close down the space and ensure that the ball was always in the opponent's half.

PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Most of their attacks came down the left wing with Christopher Van Huizen looking to get to the byline and feed crosses for the head of Kopitovic. However, the crosses never seemed to reach their mark as they kept flying over the head of the tall striker. Tampines were made to pay for those missed crosses in the 30th minute.


Shahdan Sulaiman found himself with a free kick on the far left-hand corner of the Stag’s penalty box. The Singapore International delivered a perfectly weighted cross that found the head of Song UiYoung, who perfectly guided his header past the outreaching Syazwan Buhari, who could do nothing but watch the ball nestle into the top right-hand corner of the net.

PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


There were calls for offside, but Kopitovic’s lack of defensive discipline played everyone onside. 1-0 to the boys in white, and the sense of déjà vu started to creep into the travelling supporters' minds.


Diego Lopes nearly got himself on the scoresheet when he found himself on the receiving end of a stray ball and with Buhari off his line. The Tampines Rover’s keeper wouldn’t let that happen as he scrambled back to his goal line just in time to push Lopes’s delicate lob past his left-hand post.


The Sailors went into the half 1-0 up, but as we all know, a one-goal lead is nothing in a football game.

PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


There wasn’t any change of pace in the second half from both teams, and Tampines kept pushing for their equaliser while Lion City Sailors were doing their level best to maintain control of the ball.


Substitutions were always essential with this kind of pace, which proved to be the case as Gavin Lee made sure that his team’s pace would never slow down. The Tampines Rovers’ coach brought Irwan Shah and Taufik Suparno in the 63rd and 73rd minute, respectively, to good effect.

PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


In the 77th minute, Irwan Shah played a perfectly weighted low pass down the line for Taufik to chase. The number 13 forward outpaced Amirul Adli on the left-hand side and slotted the ball underneath an oncoming Hassan Sunny, who saw the ball roll into the net to make it 1-1.


That goal is Taufik’s 7th of the season which surpasses his previous season’s goal tally of 6th.

The Stags nearly produced the comeback of the season when Irwan Shah burst down the left wing and drilled a low cross into the box for Kopitovic to finish.

PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Hassan Sunny was on hand to eliminate the danger, and you tend to wonder that it just wasn’t going to be Kopitovic’s night. Coach Kim made two changes after that, with Maxime Lestienne and Kin Shin Wook coming into the frame to get that winning goal that the Sailors desired.


The match took a turn for the worst when substitute Nur Adam clashed with Gavin Lee to get the ball off the Rovers manager’s hands. This sparked a clash between players and staff from both sides. Kim Do Hoon looked to have head-butted Mustafic Fahrudin and was shown a yellow card by referee Ahmad A’Qashah. 4th official Abirami Naidu had her day cut out for her as she had to deal with two passionate teams that were driven by the adrenaline sent from the crowd.

PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


With every drama, there must always be an epic outcome. It happened in the 93rd minute when Lestienne found the ball at his feet following a pass from Shahdan Sulaiman on his favourable left-hand side. The Belgian matched very well with Diego Lopes with a quick give and go that saw the substitute delivering a low pass into the middle of the box for the big man, Pedro Henrique!


The Brazilian defender smashed the ball into the roof of the net as the Tampines defenders dropped to their knees. Heartbreak for the Stags but bliss for the Sailors, who took a 2-1 lead with less than two minutes to play.

PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Referee Ahmad A’Qashah blew the final whistle to the rapturous applause and cheers from the home fans to signify a 2-1 for the Sailors, who ended the winless drought. The game brought out so much passion and excitement on and off the pitch even after the final whistle as we saw both teams going head to head again, with Coach Kim Do Hoon being the centre of attention together with Yasir Hanapi and Boris Kopitovic.


We never like to see such ugly scenes after the game, but with the circumstances of how intense the game was and how important the result is to both teams, tension is bound to pour over. I, for one, loved how both sets of players were making their feelings known. You wish there wasn’t a final whistle.

PHOTO: FAIZAL BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Lion City Sailors will face Albirex Niigata on Friday at the Jurong East Stadium, while Tampines Rovers look set to put this loss past them as they face Hougang United Football Club at Our Tampines Hub on Saturday.


More match photos from the Lion City Sailors vs Tampines Rovers match available in our photo gallery here.


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