By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
Reporting from the Queenstown Stadium
It took the Philippine side just seven minutes to open the scoring at the Queenstown Stadium when Misagh Bahadoran fired home Aaron Altiche’s fine cross at the far post, but Tanjong Pagar equalised on the half-hour mark when Ismael Benahmed applied the finishing touches to a wonderfully-worked set-piece routine.
The hosts then edged ahead in the 49th minute when Monsef Zerka was left with an easy tap-in after Roland Dely Sadia had flapped at a cross, but 20 minutes from time, Aurelien Herisson made a similar mistake at the other end to allow Altiche to slot home the equaliser.
Despite being one of the success stories of the 2013 Great Eastern-YEO’s S.League, the last few weeks have been disappointing for the Jaguars as they entered Tuesday’s tie winless in their last five outings.
And although the prospect of taking one step closer to the final of the Singapore Cup would should have been sufficient motivation for them to raise their game, they got off to a horror start in the seventh minute as Altiche broke free down the right and whipped in a perfect cross to the far post to leave Bahadoran with a simple tap-in for the visitors’ opener.
Seven minutes later, Tanjong Pagar did create their first real chance when Asraf Rashid swung a brilliant cross from the right to Zerka, who brought it down on his chest and looked destined to score until he was denied by Sadia in a one-on-one situation.
Sadia had to make another fine save barely a minute later when Global failed to clear the resultant corner and allowed to the ball to fall to Hafiz Osman, whose ferocious shot was destined for the bottom corner until the opposition keeper’s intervention.
But in the 30th minute, there was little Global could do to prevent the hosts from equalising after they were awarded a freekick; Ahmad Latiff initiating a brilliant one-touch passing move that saw Kamel Ramdani play the ball left to Asraf, who in turn squared it for Benahmed to sweep home with aplomb.
The Jaguars could then have taken the lead a minute later when they won the ball straight from kickoff and played it all the way to Ramdani, but his low drive from inside the area was kept out smartly by Sadia.
Despite coming under increasing pressure from their opponents, Global continued to look dangerous in their forays forward and nearly carved out an opening six minutes before the break when Joshua Beloya won possession and threaded a neat pass through to Rufinho Sanchez, but he was denied by Walid Lounis’ recovering challenge just as he was about to pull the trigger.
And four minutes into the second half, Lounis’ contribution proved vital as the Jaguars claimed the lead when Ramdani’s freekick from the right was flapped at by Sadia, leaving Zerka with a simple tap-in at the far post.
Nonetheless, the Ivorian custodian made amends three minutes later when he produced a fine save to keep out Ramdani’s point-blank range effort, after Zerka had nodded down Azhar Ahmad’s left-wing cross into the Frenchman’s path.
Sadia’s erratic performance continued two minutes after the hour mark when he charged off his line to gather a high ball and caught it outside the area, but Global breathed a sigh of relief as referee Ahmad A’Qashah decided a yellow was sufficient punishment.
But in the 69th minute, it was Herisson’s turn to make a costly error as he failed to cleanly catch Jeffrey Christiaens’ left-wing cross at his back post under no pressure, allowing Altiche to nip in and walk the ball into the unguarded net.
As the game entered its final stages, both sides began to look increasingly content with the draw but there was still time for one final chance, and it fell Global’s way.
After clearing a corner, the visitors pushed forward in a sweeping counterattack as Bahadoran embarked on a 70-yard down the right and into the box.
But having opted against squaring the ball to Sanchez, the Philippines international could only sent his shot into the post, squandering a golden opportunity to win it for his side ahead of Friday’s return encounter.
Tanjong Pagar United: Aurelien Herisson, Hafiz Osman, Walid Lounis, Anthony Aymard, Azhar Ahmad, Ahmad Latiff, Hanafi Salleh, Ismael Benahmed, Kamel Ramdani, Asraf Rashid (K. Vikraman 70’), Monsef Zerka.
Global: Roland Dely Sadia, Jerry Barbaso, Ange Tressor Guisso, Jason de Jong, Jeffrey Christiaens, Marwin Angeles, Joshua Beloya, Aaron Altiche (Marvin Angeles 90’), Ben Starosta, Misagh Bahadoran, Rufinho Sanchez.
Image courtesy of Axrosstheline.com (BP Chua)