Match Of The Week

Fazrul double helps Tampines tame Balestier

Balestier's players (in red) are left deflated after Tampines' Billy Mehmet opened the scoring in the sixth minute of the game.
Balestier's players (in red) are left deflated after Tampines' Billy Mehmet opened the scoring in the sixth minute of the game.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

S-LEAGUE

Balestier Khalsa 2
Tampines Rovers 3

Next Friday could be a defining day for this season's S-League, as second-placed Tampines Rovers host table-toppers Albirex Niigata and the Stags gave another display of their fire-power last night as a warning to the Japanese football club.

By defeating Balestier Khalsa 3-2 at the Jalan Besar Stadium, the Stags have now plundered 13 goals in their last three games.

Goals from Billy Mehmet (6th minute) and Fazrul Nawaz (43rd, 74th) were enough to see off Balestier and close the gap on Albirex to four points, before the White Swans face third-placed Home United at Jurong East Stadium tonight.

But Stags coach Akbar Nawas is not reading too much into his side's scoring spree, saying: "It may or may not (have come at the right time). Just because we play this way for one, two or three games doesn't mean it'll last the season.

"We'll just go into the Albirex game with the plan to play to the best of our ability. Let's see what happens then."

With the Tigers putting up a stubborn defence and a wet pitch causing slick dribblers like Jermaine Pennant to slip, Tampines had to ditch their passing game and combination play for direct balls into the box for strikers Mehmet and Fazrul.

Mehmet stabbed home from Pennant's corner early in the game. The Englishman was then replaced in the first half to preserve his legs for the Albirex clash.

Substitute Irwan Shah played a key role by setting up the second goal for Fazrul, whose two goals took his tally to six this campaign.

Balestier managed to pull two goals back through Miroslav Kristic and Fadli Kamis but to no avail.

Tigers coach Marko Kraljevic said: "We started the game very slowly and we tried to open the game but when you open up against Tampines, you suffer.

"We lost possession in attack and it was really unnecessary."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2016, with the headline 'Fazrul double helps Tampines tame Balestier'. Print Edition | Subscribe