This weekends games certainly had some big talking points with league leaders Albirex losing their first game of the season, red cards and Balestier almost getting their first win in 9 games. With the league past the halfway point, games are coming thick and fast and providing some real entertainment.
Albirex Niigata (S) 1 v 2 Tanjong Pagar
The White Swans were given their first loss of the season by the hands of the Jaguars. The game started off quite even, with both teams having their fair share of possession and attacking opportunities. Albirex came close in the 24th minute, however Tanjong goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad pulled off two saves in quick succession. It was then the Jaguars who opened the scoring first, when in the 32nd minute 18 year old Fathullah Rahmat sent in a low driven cross into the box, for teammate Reo Nishiguichi to fire home. The game lost some intensity towards the end of the half and at the start of the second 45. Both teams had opportunities to score, but failed to take their chances, particularly Niigata who were chasing for an equaliser. From the 75th minute, the White Swans continued to pressure the Pagar defence and were rewarded a corner for their troubles in the 80th minute. Takahiro Tezuka sent the corner into the box and found the head of Shuya Yamashita, who cooly placed it into the back of the net to make it 1-1. However Tanjong weren't about to give up. A few minutes later after Pagar had made a defensive clearance, Albirex defender Shuya Yamashita cancelled out his own goal after failing to clear the ball on the half way line. Luiz Junior punished the mistake and ran onto goal, seeing the Niigata keeper off his line, he struck the ball over him and into the net to make it 2-1 to Tanjong. In the dying moments of the game, deja-vu struck again when Junior pounced onto a defensive error and again chipped the keeper, however this time the ball struck the far post and was cleared.
Young Lions 0 v 1 Hougang United
Young Lions would have been hoping to capitalise on their win over Balestier Khalsa last weekend, however Hougang had other ideas in mind. The game itself was quite slow at times, with neither side having too many opportunities on goal or looking to create chances, choosing instead to retain possession. Hougang did have a few attempts on goal but Young Lions goalkeeper Ridhwan Fikri, pulled off some great saves. In the second half, the Young Lions had a good opportunity to take the lead when they jumped on a Hougang defensive error and began to counter. At one point it was 2:1 against the United keeper and the ball was cut back for Ilhan Fandi, however his shot was saved by Izwan Mahbud's leg to play it out for a corner. It would go on to be a chance that went missing for the Young Lions, as in the 71st minute, defender Hami Syahin was sent off for his second yellow card for an arguably weak and incorrect foul. With being down to 10 men, Young Lions then had to try and hold out for a draw as the best result, however in the 77th minute following a deep cross into the box by Afiq Noor, Lions goalkeeper Fikri spilled the ball. Shawal Anuar pounced on the mistake and laid it off for Tomoyuki Doi to finish for his 16th goal in 14 appearances.
Balestier Khalsa 1 v 1 Lion City Sailors
Balestier almost had the chance to get their first win in 9 games and cause a huge upset at the top of the table, especially with Albirex Niigata losing as well. However, they didn't quite have enough to see the 1-0 win over the line. The first half started with mainly Lion City Sailors dominating possession and creating attacking chances. They did have some opportunities on goal, but Khalsa goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam pulled off some great saves to keep his side in it. The second half saw a shift in possession with Balestier having more of the ball. In the 60th minute, goalkeeper Nizam hit a freekick from inside his half deep into the Sailors half. Shuhei Hoshino jumped for the ball and headed it into the path of Šime Žužul who took it past Hassan Sunny and slotted it into the net. This was Šime Žužul's 7th consecutuive goal, with 9 goals this season in total. From there Khalsa had to dig in deep to deal with the Sailors onslaught. They attacked them relentlessly, however the defence and Zaiful Nizam remained strong and pulled off some more great saves. Just when Balestier may have thought they had done enough, the fourth official held up the board to show 10 additional minutes of time. In the the 95th after an attempt on goal, the referee blew the whistle for a penalty and sent off Khalsa defender Ensar Brunčević, for an alleged handball. The in form Stipe Plazibat stepped up and made no mistake from the penalty spot to fire it into the bottom left corner to make it 1-1 and his 11th goal of the season.
Matchweek 15 Fixtures
This weekends upcoming games may well be the most exciting yet with some serious battles which could change and shape the way the top of table looks. Can Lion City catch up to Albirex? Can Balestier get their first win in 10 games? Can Tampines get back to winning ways and make their surge on the title? It is certainly a weekend of action not to miss!
Albirex Niigata (S) v Hougang United | Friday 13rd August | 12:45pm UK Time
After their defeat to Tanjong Pagar at the weekend, Albirex will be looking to get back to winning ways and ensure their lead on the title. As things stand they are still in 1st place despite the loss, as Lion City Sailors were unable to capitalise. They remain three points ahead of the Sailors, however they have played one game less. Hougang will also be looking to continue their form after winning 1-0 at the weekend. These two sides did play each other two weeks ago, where Hougang played well and were winning 1-0 until the second half. This will certainly be one of the games to watch and will be sure to provide some good entertainment if not potentially some shocks.
Young Lions v Balestier Khalsa | Saturday 14th August | 10:30am UK Time
These two sides meet again after only playing each other two weeks ago, where the Lions came out the victors in a 1-0 win. Their first of the season. Despite Khalsa's poor form and being winless in 10 games, I do feel like Khalsa have to turn this bad run around at some point and there is a no better opponent to try and get it against. Balestier Khalsa will be without centre-back Ensar Brunčević after he was sent off last game, but Young Lions will also be without their forward Hami Syahin after he too recieved a red card in the last game. Khalsa's Šime Žužul is also in fine form and could be the man to make the difference.
Geylang International v Tanjong Pagar | Saturday 14th August | 10:30am UK Time
Geylang have had two weeks rest since their last game on August 1st when they played this very Pagar side and won 3-1. Tanjong have played well since that defeat, beating the league leaders 2-1 at the weekend in a game which could have serious implications for who wins the league. Tomoyoki Doi is in fine form and is top goalscorer in the league with 16 goals in 14 appearances. However, Geylang have an attacking duo which are also in fine form in Amy Recha with 6 goals and Matheus Moresche with 9 goals. This match should certainly be full of goals.
Lion City Sailors v Tampines Rovers | Sunday 15th August | 10:30am UK Time
This game will be Tampines first match since their Group Stage exist in the AFC Champions League back in July. Since then, they have been given time to rest and train following their mandatory quarantine. Given their poor performance in the Champions League, Rovers will no doubt be wanting to bounce back in the league and try and catch up on the likes of Lion City Sailors, Hougang and Albirex and they can do just that this weekend. Boris Kopitovic is their top scorer with 11 goals this season. However the Sailors will be playing with a chip on their shoulder after failing to capitalise on Niigata's loss when they drew with Balestier Khalsa. With the likes of attacking trio Stipe Plazibat, Gabriel Quak and Diego Lopes, it will certainly be an interesting game, which may shake things up at the top of the table.
Where to watch
If you're interested in watching any of this weekend Singapore Premier League games, you can do so with relative ease. All games will be available to watch live and for free on the Singapore Premier League YouTube channel, on the Singapore Premier League Facebook page, 1playsports YouTube channel, 1playsports Facebook page and on ElevenSports.