Football: Tiong Bahru pip Still Aerion 1-0 to stay two points behind WPL leaders Tanjong Pagar

Tiong Bahru FC players celebrate their victory against Still Aerion at Yishun stadium on June 12, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Tiong Bahru FC goalkeeper Audrey Cheong (extreme right) claiming a cross against Still Aerion. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Tiong Bahru's Rachel Chan (centre) celebrates with teammate Reneelyn Sison after scoring against Still Aerion at the Yishun Stadium on June 12, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Tiong Bahru midfielder Rachel Chan may have yet to play a full match in the Deloitte Women's Premier League (WPL), but the half-time substitute’s fresh legs proved the difference yesterday as her 83rd-minute goal carried her team to a 1-0 win over Still Aerion at the Yishun the Yishun Stadium on Sunday (June 12).

When it looked like the game would end in a draw, the 18-year-old sent a left-footed first-time curler around Still Aerion goalkeeper Nurul Faizah Ramle and into the net, helping her side stay two points behind WPL leaders Tanjong Pagar United after three games.

“It was unbelievable (to score),” said Chan, who is in her debut season. “I didn’t even know that it was going in. But I am very glad that I managed to get the goal for my team.”

Tiong Bahru assistant coach Kevin Teo praised the young midfielder and the team for the spirited display.

“I was really glad that Rachel came in and made a difference to the team, especially at a crucial moment to finish off the game,” said the 41-year-old. “We hope to work together as a team. The bench was also very helpful and encouraging one another, so hopefully there will be more good things to come.”

Tiong Bahru started the game the livelier of the two sides, spraying long balls into the box from the get-go, but did little to trouble the Still Aerion defence.

They came close to an opener when a perfectly weighted through ball from the right flank by forward Wang Zhenzhu found the run of teammate Monessha Nair, but goalkeeper Nurul got to the ball before her.

Still Aerion then had their own opening as Nur Afiqah Omar’s free kick from 30 metres went just wide of the near post.

Eleven minutes into the second half, they had yet another set piece on the edge of the box but skipper Stephanie Dominguez’s dipping cross was easily collected by Tiong Bahru goalkeeper Audrey Cheong.

Chan then made amends for a missed opportunity in the 74th minute by scoring the winner to spark frenzied celebrations.

The youngest player in her team, she is already eyeing more goals by working on her pace and skills.

“Playing with players who may be bigger in size and have better skills than me, I hope to be able to fight against them,” said the 1.53m sports science student at the Republic Polytechnic.

“And hopefully, with my team’s link-up play, support and how hard my coach trains us, I really hope that there will be more goals to come.”

Despite the narrow loss, Still Aerion coach Hyrizan Jufri described his side’s performance as a positive one.

“We made one mistake and we conceded. Overall, I am very happy with the performance because every player gave everything they got and played according to the plan,” the 50-year-old said.

With Tiong Bahru’s next two games against league leaders Tanjong Pagar (July 17) and Lion City Sailors (July 23), Teo said that they will be getting themselves ready for the challenge.

Although there is a short break, he said they will hope to build on the momentum and “match up to the two top teams”.

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