By Gabriel Tan
Despite claiming the lead thrice courtesy of goals from Sead Hadzibulic, Ahmad Latiff and Aleksandar Duric, the Stags were pegged back on each occasion by Albirex marksman Yasuhiro Yamakoshi, before Sho Kamimura netted from close range to cap off an unlikely comeback from Koichi Sugiyama's men.
Tampines' defeat was made all the more interesting on Saturday after challengers DPMM FC came from two goals down at the break to beat Home United 3-2 at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium, with goals from Shahrazen Said, Patrick da Silva and Adi Said cancelling out first-half strikes from Frederic Mendy and Shi Jiayi.
This means that DPMM are now just four points off the pace with a game in hand, while Albirex remain a further two behind, making it look increasingly likely that this season's title race will go down to the wire.
Harimau Muda's hopes were handed a big blow on Sunday evening when they were defeated by Gombak United 2-1, while Saturday's other game saw Hougang United play out an entertaining 2-2 draw with SAFFC at home.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Tanjong Pagar United defender Hafiz Osman scored at both ends in his side's 1-1 draw with Courts Young Lions, while Harimau and Geylang United were both leading 1-0 in their respective Thursday games against Balestier Khalsa and Gombak when the matches were abandoned due to inclement weather.
Here, ESPNSTAR.com picks out our best players from the latest round of the S.League, and we are going for a 4-3-3 formation this week.
GK: Syazwan Buhari (Courts Young Lions)
It hasn't been the best of seasons for Syazwan who has had to step up and fill the big boots of Izwan Mahbud, who moved to Malaysia Super League outfit LIONSXII at the start of the campaign.
However, he has shown glimpses of his talent several times this year, and it was no different on Wednesday as he put in an assured display to help his side earn a point against Hougang and end a six-game losing streak in all competition.
RB: Ismail Yunos (Gombak United)
Ismail did extremely well against Harimau on Sunday evening to nullify the threat of the dangerous Wan Zaharulnizam, keeping the pacy winger very quiet for the whole game.
It didn't get easier for the 25-year-old on the few occasions the lively Wan Zack Haikal moved over to his flank, but he continued to do admirably well at the back, and was unlucky to have conceded the penalty that led to Harimau's goal after being adjudged to have hauled down Thamil Arasu inside the area.
CB: Affize Faisal (Harimau Muda)
Despite being deployed in the unfamiliar role of centre-back, Affize displayed his versatility with a faultless display against Balestier until the match was abandoned in the 64th minute.
The 23-year-old made countless interceptions to break up everything the Tigers tried to create, and was equally steady in their loss to Gombak four days later.
CB: Sirina Camara (Courts Young Lions)
Young Lions have had their fair share of awful foreign imports but Camara is already looking anything but, having been one of their best players this season.
The Frenchman was arguably the man of the match at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday with a dominant display against Gilbert Bayonne, and came to his side's rescue in the 80th minute with a fine tackle to halt the progress of Takaya Kawanabe, who had looked set to grab a winner for the Jaguars.
LB: Takeshi Ito (Albirex Niigata)
Ito was given a torrid time against the Stags on Wednesday but to his credit, he stuck at his task all evening long despite being exposed early on.
And with the game firmly in the balance, Ito strode forward and delivered a perfectly-weighted cross for Yamakoshi to make it 3-3, which helped tilt the tie in their favour.
DM: Helmi Zambin (DPMM FC)
Things were looking far from rosy for DPMM in Brunei when, already 2-0 down to the Protectors, they lost inspirational captain Rosmin Kamis at the break.
In his place entered Helmi, who has spent time this season playing as a winger and a right-back, but is yet to prove himself in the middle of the park.
Nonetheless, all that changed within the span of 45 minutes as he provided plenty of energy and drive to his side, snapping at opponents' heels and winning possession before putting them on the front foot.
CM: Zulfadhli Emran (Gombak United)
Zulfadhli earned his first Team of the Week nomination back in Week 17 when he came off the bench for the ill Ismail and put in an accomplished display at right-back.
On Sunday, Bulls coach K. Balagumaran raised more than a few eyebrows then he deployed the 23-year-old in the engine room but his faith was repaid with a fantastic display from his young charge.
Apart from opening the scoring in the 51st minute with a long-range strike, Zulfadhli hardly misplaced a pass all evening long and linked up well with central-midfield partner Christopher Anderson.
CM: Ahmad Latiff (Tampines Rovers)
Despite being on the losing end on Wednesday, Latiff was one of the stars in the game between Tampines and Albirex.
He showed excellent composure to put his side 2-1 up in the 33rd minute when he clinically fired past Takuma Ito, after his flick-on looking for Aleksandar Duric was headed back into his path by Norihiro Kawakami.
Two minutes after the break, he laid on a good assist for Duric to make it 3-2 after breaking down the right and hitting the byline, before drilling a perfect cutback to his skipper.
Alas, it was not to be as the White Swans hit back with goals from Yamakoshi and Kamimura to grab all three points in a real thriller.
RF: Jordan Webb (Hougang United)
At times this year, Webb has been one of the most dangerous forwards in the league but other times, he has struggled for consistency and drifts in and out of matches at the drop of the hat.
On Saturday, he showed why he remains Hougang's most dangerous player with a lively display against the Warriors.
Running straight at the SAFFC backline whenever he got the ball, the Canadian also scored an equaliser just minutes after his side had gone behind, unleashing a stunning strike past a hapless Shahril Jantan.
LF: Shahrazen Said (DPMM FC)
Should Brunei qualify for the AFF Suzuki Cup in November, opposition sides would be wise in keeping an eye out on Shahrazen, who has already netted 12 goals in the league this season - the joint-second best tally behind Mendy.
The 26-year-old kicked off the DPMM comeback in the 49th minute when his header was deflected by Masrezwan Masturi past Lionel Lewis, and it was also fitting that his brother, Adi, was the one that came off the bench to grab their 89th-minute winner.
CF: Yasuhiro Yamakoshi (Albirex Niigata)
If there was one player who never needed to worry about his place in this round's Team of the Week, it was Yamakoshi, whose hat-trick against Tampines could prove to be one of the turning points in this season's title race.
It's also somewhat surprising he had to warm the bench early on in the campaign with Sugiyama favouring Toshikazu Soya, who has since left the club, especially since he appears to be a real natural in front of the posts.
His first goal came in the 29th minute when a speculative effort somehow managed to creep past Sasa Dreven, but there was nothing fortunate about his second when he fired into the bottom corner after a neat layoff from Keisuke Matsui.
Then in the 71st minute, his hat-trick was completed when he expertly found space inside the area and planted a firm header into the back of the net after an excellent cross from Takeshi Ito.