By ESPNSTAR.com staff
Title chasers Tampines entered the game at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday under pressure with the knowledge that victory in their remaining two fixtures would guarantee them a consecutive title win, and their nerves showed as the Warriors took the lead through Shimpei Sakurada in the 51st minute.
The Stags managed to hit back through Ahmad Latiff 11 minutes later, before SAFFC restored their one goal advantage after substitute Farul Nawaz tapped home a loose ball seven minutes from time.
However, Tampines showed great resilience and mental strength to stage an amazing comeback in the dying minutes of the game, with defender Benoit Croissant first getting the equaliser for the Stags in the 88th minute, before Jamil Ali popped up with the winner two minutes into stoppage time to put Tay Peng Kee's men in the driving seat for the title.
The importance of this victory was not lost on Tay, who praised his side for their fighting spirit and cited their burning desire for a win as the deciding factor in the game.
"I think the boys played their hearts out," Tay enthused.
"We didn't give up and we wanted the win more, that's the difference.
"All credit should be given to the whole team.
"At the end of the day, the boys knew they needed to get the six points [from their remaining two games] and you could see they really wanted to get the points.
"They have their own motivation and I can see very clearly that they're now all playing as a unit."
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Tay readily admitted he thought his side would drop points after Nawaz had scored at such a late stage of the game and claimed the goal forced his side to go for broke.
"Our intention from the start was not to drop any points at all so when they scored their [second] goal, we had to push forward.
"So basically it was 5 behind and 5 on top and the formation didn't matter anymore."
The former Singapore international also revealed that he had long strategized to bring on match winner Jamil into the game.
We had already strategized to get Jamil into the later part of the game; it was part of our strategy to get him in for at least 35 minutes of the game.
"And of course when we were down at 2-1, I had to throw [Noh] Alam Shah in because it was either we got the 3 points or we got nothing.
Tampines are set to face off with SAFFC, a team Tay described as a "strong, professional team", once again in the RHB Singapore Cup final next Sunday, but the Stags chief refused to disclose much about his feelings on that fixture.
"We just focused on today's game to be honest," Tay responded when asked about the Cup final on October 28.
"We don't talk about the Singapore Cup, or even our last game.
"Hopefully, this result will put some pressure on DPMM and also lift the whole team's morale."
Tampines are currently seven points ahead of their nearest challengers DPMM FC, who have played two games less, and can wrap up the title if they manage to beat Harimau Muda in their final fixture.