SINGAPORE - Title-chasing Tampines Rovers suffered a setback in the S-League on Saturday night (Sept 10) when they lost 1-0 to Home United at Bishan Stadium.
Shamil Sharif's second-half goal was enough to see off the Stags, who were missing target-man Billy Mehmet through suspension.
Tampines coach Akbar Nawas started with defensive midfielder Fahrudin Mustafic up front but the anchorman was unable to offer much threat and was taken off after the hour mark.
The Stags did come close to scoring, with Jordan Webb and Jermaine Pennant both hitting the woodwork.
With the defeat, Tampines remain second in the nine-team table on 40 points, four points behind leaders Albirex Niigata, who now have a game in hand.
Akbar was surprisingly calm at the post-match press conference despite dropping points at a crucial point of the title race.
Asked if he was disappointed that his big players did not step up, Akbar said: "Is this really a big game? We have an AFC Cup game against Bengaluru (next Wednesday), the players went all out but they're humans and will have one mind on the match against Bengaluru."
His counterpart Aidil Sharin admitted that Home were lucky that Tampines were missing the likes fo Mehmet and Singapore international Fazrul Nawaz.
Aidil, who took over the reins in July, said: "We were very lucky to be honest. They had their fair share of chances... but we are lucky because Fazrul is not playing, Mehmet is out.
"But I can't take anything away from the boys who gave everything tonight."