Photo Credit: Football Association of Singapore
First-half goals from Shameer Aziq and Khairul Amri put the Stags in the driving seat, before Irwan Shah and Jordan Webb netted after the break to round off a second successive victory for the home side.
Hougang started off the better side and were unlucky not to get a penalty on seven minutes when Irfan Najeeb’s late challenge on Fareez Farhan in the box went unpunished.
The Cheetahs then went close to scoring three minutes later with Iqbal Hussain curling wide from the edge of the box after being teed up by Muhaimin Suhaimi.
Tampines then punished their opponents by scoring their first chance on 19 minutes.
After a quick give-and-go with Amri, Webb lofted in a good cross from the left for Shameer to convert despite Hougang defender Faiz Salleh’s best efforts on the line to keep it out.
Hougang had a good chance to hit right back through a counter-attack, but Fareez failed to connect with Nazrul Nazari’s cross.
Tampines duly doubled their lead in the 24th minute, with Amri nodding home Yasir Hanapi’s free-kick past stranded Hougang goalkeeper Ridhuan Barudin.
The buoyant Stags could have ended the first half three goals to the good, but Amri could only volley Shameer’s cross onto the bar.
Juergen Raab’s side picked up where they left off after the restart, with Amirul Adli and Ryutaro Megumi forcing good saves from Ridhuan in quick succession.
Hougang tried to up the ante but found it hard to breach a Tampines defence well-marshalled by captain Fahrudin Mustafic.
Iqbal could have halved the deficit for the Cheetahs on 58 minutes, but his 20-yard drive was tipped around the post by Tampines custodian Syazwan Buhari.
Their hopes of a comeback were well and truly killed nine minutes later, as Irwan broke the offside trap to divert home Megumi’s teasing right-wing cross.
The Stags rubbed salt into Hougang’s wounds five minutes from time, with Webb latching on to Amri’s slide-rule pass before slotting past the onrushing Ridhuan to round off the night.
The result meant Tampines are now up to second – ahead of Brunei DPMM FC, Young Lions and Balestier Khalsa FC on goal difference – with six points from three games.
Meanwhile Hougang dropped back to the foot of the SPL table – level on one point with Geylang International FC but with a worse goal difference than the latter.
Tampines will go away to Choa Chu Kang Stadium to face Warriors FC on Saturday, while Hougang will continue their search for a first win a day later when they host Balestier.
What they said
Tampines Head Coach Juergen Raab: “I’m not sure what happened in the first 15 minutes, the team weren’t so fresh and we weren’t in the match. (Regarding the early penalty shout) maybe it was, but I cannot make the decision… If they got it, it would have been a different situation.
“We then became better, controlled the game more and scored the goals to get a clear win for us. But we still have to be better in our movement; we had too many touches on the ball and the team couldn’t move together (at times). That’s something which we have to improve. Now we just to have try to keep winning points and target for the top of the table.”
Hougang Head Coach Philippe Aw: “The game plan was simple today. We came here to sit back and counter; we wanted to minimise the space for Tampines to play. We knew their two key players were Jordan and Megumi. We managed to neutralise Megumi on their right, but did not stop Jordan (on their left). That’s how the first two goals came.
“The goals we conceded were disappointing as well. We had five players in defence, but all it took was a give-and-go to open our defence (for the first). The second was a free kick. The third – it was a cross which their man ran into between our centre-backs to score.
“That early penalty shout was clear. It was disappointing that we did not get that break. If that had gone our way and we had taken the lead, it would have been different for us.”
Tampines: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Irfan Najeeb, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Daniel Bennett, Shameer Aziq, Amirul Adli (Madhu Mohana 67’), Yasir Hanapi (Fazrul Nawaz 78’), Irwan Shah, Ryutaro Megumi (Zulfadhmi Suzliman 72’), Khairul Amri, Jordan Webb.
Unused subs: Haikal Hasnol (GK), Afiq Yunos, Safirul Sulaiman, Faizal Raffi.
Hougang: Ridhuan Barudin (GK), Illyas Lee (Ashrul Syafeeq 70’), Adam Mitter, Gerald Ting, Nazrul Nazari, Fabian Kwok (C), Syahiran Miswan, Muhaimin Suhaimi (Nurhilmi Jasni 77’), Faiz Salleh, Iqbal Hussain, Fareez Farhan (Shahfiq Ghani 70’).
Unused subs: Zulfairuuz Rudy (GK), Stanely Ng, Amir Zalani, Daniel Goh.