Albirex stay clear in second; big win for Rams

Albirex Niigata (S) remained four points clear of Tanjong Pagar United in second place in the Great Eastern-YEO's S.League after both sides played out a 0-0 draw.

Nagasawa looks on...
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

Entering Tuesday's game at the Queenstown Stadium on the back of a two-game winless run, the White Swans were looking to maintain their pursuit of leaders Tampines Rovers.

But in what turned out to be a rather dour encounter, both sides appeared lacklustre throughout the game and struggled to carve out any clear-cut openings.

Albirex had the first chance in the 14th minute when Shingo Suzuki's corner was flicked on by Kento Fukuda to Kazuki Sakamoto, only for the usually-prolific striker could only send a difficult header over the bar.

Just before the break, the Jaguars had a chance of their own after John Wilkinson received the ball down the right and played a neat first-time pass to Ismael Benahmed, but the Frenchman opted to take it on the half-volley from the edge of the area and sent his shot way over.

Tanjong Pagar did look destined to score in the 48th minute when Benahmed latched onto Sazali Salleh's pass and fired in a cross to Monsef Zerka, but just as the Morocco international was about to slot home from two yards out, Fukuda made a brilliant recovering challenge to halt the danger.

A minute later, Sakamoto had another half chance to net his 10th goal of the campaign after being picked out inside the area by Masatake Sato's cut-back, but Aurelien Herisson was equal to the task and clawed away his firm drive.

Wilkinson was looking very lively for the hosts and he had chance to open his account for his new side in the 57th minute, when he lined up a a freekick on the edge of the box and curled in a lovely effort that crept just wide of the bottom corner.

A minute from time, Tanjong Pagar had one final chance to steal the win when Zerka laid a neat ball back to the edge of the box, but Hafiz Nor's blistering effort was bravely blocked by Masahiro Ishikawa, leaving both sides to settle for a share of the spoils.

Over at the Woodlands Stadium, Woodlands Wellington climbed up to fourth after a crushing 5-2 win over bottom side Courts Young Lions, ensuring goalkeeper Yazid Yasin had an evening to remember in what was his 400th S.League appearance.

It took the Rams just seven minutes to edge ahead courtesy of a Moon Soon-ho effort, but the visitors hit back two minutes before the hour mark when Sherif El-Masri found the back of the net.

However, Moon restored Woodlands' lead in the 69th minute and completed his hat-trick six minutes later, before Chang Jo-yoon added a fourth in the 81st minute to all but end the contest.

Young Lions did manage to grab a second three minutes from time when Sahil Suhaimi netted, but the night always belonged to the hosts and they had to last laugh as they struck a fifth in injury-time thanks to an Ang Zhiwei effort.

Tuesday's Great Eastern-YEO's S.League Results

Tanjong Pagar United 0-0 Albirex Niigata (S)

Woodlands Wellington 5-2 Courts Young Lions

Image courtesy of Albirex Niigata (S) FC

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