Khairul Amri was robbed of a possible Singapore Premier League (SPL) ‘Goal of the Season’ contender, but it did not matter as Amirul Adli’s second-half stunner ensured Tampines Rovers edged Home United 1-0 at Our Tampines Hub on Tuesday night.
The result meant Tampines opened up a seven-point gap between them and third-placed Home, with a game in hand.
Having played their last game nine days ago as compared to Home whom played three days earlier, Tampines made full use of their fresher legs as they dominated the entire first half.
The first chance of the night came on 10 minutes, with Japanese winger Ryutaro Megumi somehow nodding Irwan Shah’s teasing left-wing cross over from a yard out.
The Stags tested Rudy Khairullah for the first time six minutes later as the Home goalkeeper repelled Megumi’s header off another Irwan cross.
They had the ball in the net in the 20th minute, but Megumi was adjudged to be in an offside position when he diverted home Amri’s shot from close range.
Jurgen Raab’s side then thought they had finally broken the deadlock a minute after the half-hour mark.
Amri pounced on a slack Shakir Hamzah pass out of defence to loft a stunning 40-yard left-footed effort over Rudy.
The ball struck the underside of the bar before clearly bouncing over the line, but a goal was somehow not awarded to the amusement of Amri – who had wheeled away in celebration as the customary goal celebration song rang over the stadium’s PA system.
Home’s only opportunity of the first half came on 35 minutes, with Abdil Qaiyyim failing to keep his header down from Izzdin Shafiq’s free-kick.
Tampines continued to threaten thereafter, but Rudy stood up tall with a superb double save to deny Shameer Aziq and Jordan Webb four minutes before half time.
Somehow it remained goalless till half-time, but things would change just 45 seconds into the second half.
Capitalising on Shakir’s poor clearance, Adli strode onto the loose ball in a flash before producing a stunning piledriver from 25 yards out that whistled past Rudy and almost broke the net.
Home Coach Aidil Sharin reacted by throwing on Iqram Rifqi and Amy Recha for the ineffectual duo of Arshad Shamim and Amiruldin Asraf soon after, but the Protectors continued to struggle to create chances upfront.
Without strike partner Song Ui-Young, Shahril Ishak cut a frustrated figure upfront as he lacked quality service all night.
Tampines could have doubled their lead on 82 minutes when Yasir Hanapi’s neat backheel put Webb through on goal, but the Canadian winger saw his curling shot tipped away by Rudy.
Home went agonisingly close to finding an equaliser moments later, but Hafiz Nor’s well-struck shot from the edge of the area could only find the roof of the net.
Tampines was denied a second in injury time with Shameer Aziq striking the left-hand post after being put through on goal by Webb, but that miss did not matter as Tampines held on for the valuable three points.
The Stags will take confidence from the result as they face Balestier Khalsa away on Saturday evening, while Home face Hougang United FC at Jalan Besar Stadium 24 hours later.
Tampines Rovers FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Irfan Najeeb (Madhu Mohana 72’) , Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Daniel Bennett, Shameer Aziq, Amirul Adli, Yasir Hanapi, Irwan Shah (Hafiz Sujad 81’), Ryutaro Megumi, Khairul Amri (Fazrul Nawaz 76’), Jordan Webb
Home United FC: Rudy Khairullah (GK), Aqhari Abdullah (Faritz Hameed 77’), Abdil Qaiyyim, Shakir Hamzah, Faizal Roslan, Hafiz Nor, M. Anumanthan, Izzdin Shafiq (C), Arshad Shamim (Iqram Rifqi 55’), Amiruldin Asraf (Amy Recha 62’), Shahril Ishak