Feisty SPL encounter ends in goalless draw between Warriors and Tampines

Warriors FC remain winless in the Singapore Premier League after a goalless draw at home to Tampines Rovers FC.

Warriors FC and Tampines Rovers FC shared the spoils in the first goalless draw of the 2018 Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) season at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Saturday evening.

With the result, Warriors are in sixth with three points and are still winless after four matches while Tampines have seven from the same amount of games played.

Fresh from their 4-0 victory over Hougang United FC three days ago, Tampines came out with all guns blazing and were nearly rewarded with the opener after eight minutes.

Jordan Webb pounced on a weak headed clearance from Emmeric Ong on the edge of the six-yard box but saw his effort cleared off the line by Delwinder Singh, much to the relief of a stranded Mukundan Maran.

On a rain-sodden pitch, both teams understandably took a while to get used to the conditions with neither team managing to get the upper hand.

While goalmouth action was at a premium, there was no lack of heated moments where there were a couple of incidents which nearly sparked a free for all.

The rest of the first half proved to be drab with clear chances few and far between thereafter, with Yasir Hanapi flashing one wide on 25 minutes. That was the closest either team would come to breaking the deadlock in the opening 45.

After the restart, the home side fashioned their first real chance of the game through Tajeli Salamat whose shot was deflected over for a corner in the 53rd minute.

Warriors Head Coach Mirko Grabovac reacted by bringing on winger Suria Prakash for Daniel Shafiq shortly after in a move to inject more attacking impetus.

But it was Tampines who almost went in front in the 68th minute when Webb’s cross from the left byline found an unmarked Shameer Aziq at the far post. The 23-year-old – who netted against Hougang the last time out – however thumped over from close range.

Fadhil Noh then forced Tampines goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari into a good save from a 25-yard freekick in the 77th minute, before Yasir had his freekick well-collected by Mukundan with five minutes left on the clock.

Japanese winger Ryutaro Megumi could have snatched a late winner for Tampines, but poked over in stoppage time as both teams were unable to be separated.

It was Warriors’ first clean sheet of the season while Tampines were held to a draw for the first time this year.

Tampines will now turn their attention to their final AFC Group H match against Persija Jakarta at home on Tuesday while Warriors will next face Balestier Khalsa at Toa Payoh Stadium in the SPL on Sunday, April 29.

Warriors Head Coach Mirko Grabovac: “I was happy with the performance of the boys today. It was a physical game but they worked very hard against a team in Tampines who I feel are the best team in the league after Albirex. This is a good way and we want to keep this going.

“I spoke to the players after the game against Hougang that everyone can make mistakes but not a good team like us, so I’m happy we managed to keep the clean sheet. But we still need to score and that’s our main problem so far which I hope will get better when Sahil (Suhaimi) reaches full fitness and Jonathan (Behe) returns from injury.”     

Tampines Head Coach Juergen Raab: “I’m disappointed we didn’t win the game today, but the players showed good nerves today and it wasn’t easy so I respect that. There were not many chances for us although we had clear opportunities to score and win, which was the target.

“I tried to change approach by putting Jordan (Webb) in the middle and added a winger on the left so we have more offensive power but it just didn’t work out. But what you have seen (from Warriors) today is not nice for football. They were trying to destroy our players at every available opportunity but this is something we can learn for future matches.”

Warriors FC: Mukundan Maran (GK), Emmeric Ong, Delwinder Singh, Kento Fukuda (C), Daniel Shafiq (S Suria Prakash 54’), Ismadi Mukhtar, Ammirul Emmran, Poh Yi Feng, Ho Wai Loon (Shamil Sharif 90’), Tajeli Salamat, Sahil Suhaimi (Fadhil Noh 70’)

Tampines Rovers: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Irfan Najeeb, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Daniel Bennett, Shameer Aziq, Amirul Adli (Zulfadhmi Suzliman 73’), Yasir Hanapi, Irwan Shah, Ryutaro Megumi, Khairul Amri (Fazrul Nawaz 62’), Jordan Webb