Albirex rise continues with Jaguars victory

Albirex Niigata continued their rise up the Great Eastern-YEO's S.League table on Thursday evening with a 2-0 victory over Tanjong Pagar United.

Yamakoshi holding up the ball well.

By Gabriel Tan at the Jalan Besar Stadium

Masatake Sato opened the scoring for Koichi Sugiyama's men just after the half-hour mark with a delightful freekick, before the flying winger turned provider in the 49th minute when he curled in a cross for Kunihiro Yamashita to wrap up all three points with a firm header from just outside the six-yard box.

Having been made to go the distance just four days earlier in their last-gasp 4-3 win over SAFFC, plenty of questions marks were raised before the game over whether Albirex would feel the effects of that gruelling encounter.

Tanjong Pagar, on the other hand, were also counting the costs of their previous match after Takaya Kawanabe and Zahid Ahmad both picked up suspensions from last Thursday's game against Hougang United.

However, coach Terry Pathmanathan was able to hand Gilbert Bayonne his debut after the Haitian striker was ineligible to play last week, and he showed an early glimpse of quality when he burst down the left and cut inside Yuki Ichikawa in the sixth minute, before unleashing a shot that was always going over.

12 minutes later, the Jaguars came even closer when Asraf Rashid latched onto a throw-in down the left and danced past a couple of challenges, before firing just over the crossbar with only Takuma Ito to beat.

Nonetheless, Albirex gradually got their passing game going and started to gain the ascendancy, and they duly took the lead in the 31st minute following a foul on Yasuhiro Yamakoshi on the edge of the area. After his initial effort had been called back by referee Ahmad A'Qashah for an infringement by Delwinder Singh, Sato stepped up once again and made no mistake with his second attempt, curling a delicate effort into the top corner despite the best efforts of Fajar Sarib.

Four minutes after the break, Sato's set-piece abilities once again came to the fore as he whipped a dangerous delivery from the right into the box, where Yamashita proceeded to outjump Fajar before powering a header into the back of the net to double his side's lead.

Watch: Highlights - Tanjong Pagar 0-2 Albirex Niigata... More Videos

Albirex custodian Takuma Ito, who had been a virtual bystander for much of the game, was then called into action in the 69th minute when Bayonne skipped past a couple of challenges on the edge of the area, before drilling in a shot that was ultimately comfortable for the 25-year-old.

And while Tanjong Pagar, spurred on by their new Haitian spearhead, briefly threatened to reduce the deficit, it was Albirex who finished the game the stronger of the two sides, and could have added a third fourteen minutes from time when Sho Kamimura sent a 25-yard effort smashing back off the crossbar.

In the end, the White Swans' superiority from set-pieces proved the difference as they coasted to a win which sees them rise up to second on the table, where they are now just two points behind leaders DPMM FC.

Tanjong Pagar United: Fajar Sarib, Sudhershen Hariram, Hanafi Salleh, Hafiz Osman, Jonathan Xu, Seah Si Hao (Abdul Rahim 46'), Delwinder Singh, Azhar Ahmad, Hafiz Nor, Asraf Rashid, Gilbert Bayonne.

Albirex Niigata: Takuma Ito, Yuki Ichikawa, Norihiro Kawakami, Kunihiro Yamashita, Takeshi Ito, Keisuke Matsui, Atsushi Shimono, Musashi Okuyama, Masatake Sato (Keita Kobayashi 79'), Sho Kamimura (Masahiko Ando 90'), Yasuhiro Yamakoshi (Toshikazu Soya 74').

Attendance: 984

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