SINGAPORE - In the end, there was no fairy-tale ending for Tampines Rovers on the final day of the Singapore Premier League (SPL) season as a 1-1 draw with Geylang International at Our Tampines Hub on Saturday (Dec 5) ended any title hopes.
That result, coupled with a 1-0 win for league leaders Albirex Niigata over Hougang United at Hougang Stadium, saw the Japanese outfit lift their fourth SPL trophy in five seasons.
The Stags trailed Albirex by a point and needed to not only beat Geylang but also hope the Japanese club dropped points against Hougang United.
There was barely a moment of silence as 200 fans - 150 home and 50 away - occupied the stands for the first time since March 14.
In the 24th minute, Geylang International took the lead when Barry Maguire planted a fine header past Syazwan Buhari from Fareez Farhan's corner.
As the clock ticked down, Tampines poured forward relentlessly in search of a lifeline to haul them back into the game.
Geylang withstood each charge until Tampines defender Baihakki Khaizan equalised with a header from Irwan Shah's free-kick with 10 minutes to go.
The draw was enough for Geylang to secure the second and final AFC Cup berth as Balestier Khalsa lost 5-2 to Lion City Sailors at Bishan Stadium.