TAMPINES ROVERS 1 (Shahdan Sulaiman 49), WOODLANDS WELLINGTON 2 (Chang Jo Yoon 9, Atsushi Shimono 55)
One team went into the match on the back of two straight losses, the other had a crucial continental tussle on their minds.
When Woodlands Wellington and Tampines Rovers collided in a Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League clash at Jalan Besar Stadium last night, it was the unfashionable Rams who coped better as they stunned the champions 2-1.
Tampines coach Salim Moin blamed his team's over-confidence for the result, after his side dominated the game but paid the price for some madcap defending.
Speaking after the game, the former Singapore midfielder said: "I've already told them many times to be consistent. We were over-confident. You could see we dominated the game but we forgot how to defend and, true enough, we got caught on counter-attacks."
When asked if his players were distracted with the crucial AFC Cup tie against Myanmar side Nay Pyi Taw looming at Jalan Besar on Tuesday, Salim said: "Yes and no.
"They are big enough to know which game is more important, so the most important thing now is that we forget about this match and focus on the AFC Cup match, where I hope we go to the next round.
"My players are definitely disappointed, but I still trust them to be strong and there will be a different side on Tuesday, I can guarantee you that."
Both of the Rams' goals stemmed from shoddy defending, although they were expertly finished by Chang Jo Yoon and Atsushi Shimono, respectively.
After just nine minutes, Shafuan Sutohmoh found Chang unmarked on the edge of the area and the South Korean duly cut in before curling in a fine effort beyond Stags goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Jumaat for his fourth goal of the season.
The champions came out strong after the break to catch Woodlands out.
Aleksandar Duric's through ball missed striker partner Noh Alam Shah but Rams goalkeeper Yazid Yasin spilled the ball and the rebound fell right at the feet of Shahdan Sulaiman, who made no mistake with a smooth finish.
Less than 10 minutes later, the Stags defence went AWOL when Taufiq Ghani's pass found Shimono all alone in the middle of the pitch and he bore down on goal and eventually slotted the ball through Hyrulnizam's legs.
Woodlands coach Darren Stewart seemed genuinely surprised by how his team played, especially after losing their previous two games (1-0 to Warriors FC and 3-0 to Home United).
He said: "I'm at a loss for words. It looked like we had 15 players out on the pitch.
"I am very proud of the boys, and I'm glad to see that kind of workrate from them. I really didn't expect it.
"When you play like that against the champions, what else can you say?
"We didn't have a single bad player out there tonight."
This article was published on April 19 in The New Paper.
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