The Garena Young Lions were unable to stop Tampines Rovers FC from sneaking a last-gasp 1-0 victory over them at the Jurong West Stadium on Sunday night.
It could have been a different story had the Young Lions put away the chances they created, as they put up a spirited showing to keep their more illustrious opponents at bay.
Young Lions custodian Zharfan Rohaizad deflected an attempt in the 11th minute when Shahdan Sulaiman released Ismadi Mukhtar who drilled a low shot at goal.
Ryutaro Megumi and Ismadi then had further opportunities within the space of two minutes, but they failed to trouble Zharfan.
At the other end, Jordan Chan sent a weak header straight at Izwan Mahbud on 16 minutes before Muhelmy Suhaimi’s shot sailed narrowly over the bar a minute later.
The Young Lions were awarded a number of freekicks thereafter, but it was Muhamin Suhaimi who came closest with a fierce shot which stung the palms of Izwan in the 20th minute.
In the 33rd minute, Megumi’s effort was spilled by Zharfan who gathered on the second attempt, before Taufik Suparno sliced an opportunity wide at the other end.
Tampines could have gone ahead 10 minutes before the break but Young Lions left-back Syahrul Sazali managed to head the ball off the line following a Tampines corner.
Buoyed by their solid first-half performance, the Young Lions started the second period brightly with Amirul Adli rising highest in the 53rd minute to meet Muhaimin’s corner – but he could only glance a header narrowly wide.
Tampines continued to look for an opener and nearly got it in the 56th minute, but Ismadi first saw his shot parried by Zharfan before Amri fired wide with only the keeper to beat 10 minutes later.
Syahrul kept his side in the game as he again cleared off the line after Fahrudin Mustafic had headed Shahdan’s corner goalward in the 73rd minute.
With the clock running down, Hami Syahin nearly stole all three points for the Young Lions with two minutes remaining but his freekick was pushed over by an alert Izwan.
It was left to National Team striker Khairul Amri, who had come on as a 58th minute substitute, to strike deep into second-half stoppage time to help the Stags record their third win on the trot in all competitions as he steered home Shakir Hamzah’s cross past Zharfan at the near post.
Garena Young Lions Head Coach V Selvaraj: “I felt that it was an even game today, where both teams created chances and I thought we deserved a point.
“In the first half, we created better chances but our composure wasn’t there. In the second, we pressed them and gave them less time on the ball and were trying to work together as a unit.
“We needed to stay focused on the game throughout the 90 minutes. If you don’t focus, anything can happen in football.”
Garena Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Amirul Adli, Shahrin Saberin (C), Ryan Syaffiq, Taufik Suparno (Ikhsan Fandi 65’), Syahrul Sazali, Hami Syahin, Muhaimin Suhaimi, Jordan Chan (Ammirul Emmran 65’), Rusyaidi Salime, Muhelmy Suhaimi (Haiqal Pashia 72’)