Match Of The Week

Football: Pennant sparks comeback win for Stags

Tampines' Jermaine Pennant scoring his team's second goal from the penalty spot. The Stags defeated 10-man Warriors FC 4-2 at the Jurong West Stadium yesterday.
Tampines' Jermaine Pennant scoring his team's second goal from the penalty spot. The Stags defeated 10-man Warriors FC 4-2 at the Jurong West Stadium yesterday.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Stags' star player 'made the difference' after coming off the bench, according to Sundram

S-LEAGUE

Tampines Rovers 4

Warriors FC 2

He had to watch the first half from the bench, and when the chips were down for Tampines Rovers, their hopes turned to star man Jermaine Pennant to spark life into the team.

And that was exactly what he did, as the former Arsenal and Liverpool winger, who was hampered by a hamstring problem, inspired his team to a 4-2 comeback win against 10-man Warriors FC in their S-League game yesterday.

On a wet evening, Pennant demonstrated his class, delivering quality crosses and set-pieces to give the visitors a hard time at the Jurong West Stadium.

It was a much-needed victory for the Stags, who were coming off a 3-2 away defeat to Bangladeshi side Sheikh Jamal in the Asian Football Confederation Cup on Tuesday, along with issues off the field regarding the club's finances.

Stags coach V. Sundramoorthy said of his marquee player: "Pennant came in and made so much difference to the team, holding the ball, creating chances..."

Yet, despite their talisman's performance, it was hardly a convincing win from Tampines, who were missing Canadian winger Jordan Webb through injury.

Despite striker Billy Mehmet's 38th-minute opener, the Stags went into half-time 1-2 down after defensive lapses led to quick-fire goals by Hafiz Nor and Ridhuan Muhammad just before the break.

But the hosts were given a lifeline when Warriors goalkeeper Yazid Yasin was sent off for bringing down striker Fazrul Nawaz in the penalty box in the 50th minute.

Pennant coolly dispatched the resultant penalty to level the score.

Warriors coach Jorg Steinebrunner was visibly frustrated about the decision. He blasted: "The goalkeeper wasn't even the last man, there were five or six players in the box.

"We were always in the game, character-wise and spirit-wise…we tried everything. Even when it was 2-2 and with 10 men, we still looked good going forward."

Although Tampines had the numerical advantage and dominated possession, the visitors continued to threaten, especially through forward Jonathan Behe.

But Hafiz Sujad pounced on a defensive lapse to fire the ball past substitute goalkeeper Zainol Gulam in the 75th minute. The midfielder sealed the win with a deflected long-range shot towards the end.

With the win, second-placed Tampines (20 points) has narrowed the gap on leaders Albirex Niigata to three points with a game in hand. In yesterday's other fixture, defending champions Brunei DPMM lost 1-2 in Bandar Seri Begawan to Geylang International.

Sundram said: "After we scored, in the last seven minutes (of the first half), we switched off and got punished. We were clearly missing Jordan and Jermaine, the extra punch wasn't there.

"(But) that's football, you have to keep yourself up and I think they responded very well in the second half…we are quite pleased to get the points."

clntan@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 01, 2016, with the headline 'Pennant sparks comeback win'. Print Edition | Subscribe