It was a weekend of fixtures which saw a surprise result, goalscorers continuing their fine form, some stunning freekicks and plenty of action to sate your appetite.
Balestier Khalsa 5 v 2 Tampines Rovers
For those of us who follow Singapore Football, we know how much of a shock result this is. Khalsa in a 10 match winless streak, losing twice to Young Lions, the contract termination of veteran goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam and second bottom of the table, it was safe to say most would have written Balestier off. Myself included. However, Khalsa displayed fight and energy from the very first whistle. In the 9th minute, Balestier began a counter with Croatian duo Šime Žužul and Kristijan Krajček, the former seeing his shot saved by the Rovers keeper, before Krajček hit the rebound on the half volley to make it 1-0. Balestier didn't stop there. In the 11th minute Žužul beat the offside trap and was through on goal, taking it calmly around keeper Syazwan Buhari and placing it into the back on the net. The Stags did respond just moments later, when Serbian winger Zehrudin Mehmedović, recieved the ball in the box and fired it into the bottom right corner. Tampines made it 2-2 just before half time with Zehrudin Mehmedović getting his brace, cheekily flicking a Kopitović cross with his foot into the corner of the net. At this point, it felt likely we would see a Khalsa collapse like we have gotten used to, however despite losing the two goal deficit, the Tigers bared their fangs. In the 60th minute Ho Wai Loon crossed the ball into the box. The Rovers defenders failed to clear the ball twice in quick succession, which allowed the inform Šime Žužul to get his second of the game, with a fierce shot into the top right corner to make it 3-2 Balestier. Ho Wai Loon and Žužul were involved again just moments later, when Žužul controlled down a long Ho Wai Loon cross, to lay it off for Shuhei Hoshino to slot past the keeper. In the final action of the game, Šime Žužul bagged his hat-trick in 89th minute, when he beat the offside trap once again and calmly placed the ball into the bottom left corner. Balestier's first win in 10 and Šime Žužul becomes the second top goal scorer in the league, with 14 goals in 16 appearances.
Hougang United 2 v 1 Geylang International
It was all square for the first half of this game, with both sides having opportunities in front of goal, but failing to capitalise and make the most of their chances. Geylang dominated the opening 15 minutes, whilst the pendulum shifted and Hougang had the majority of possession between the 15th and 30th minute. It would be Hougang however, who would get on the scoresheet first when it the 59th minute Shahfiq Ghani sent in a deep long ball towards Shawal Anuar which the Geyland defenders failed to intercept. Anuar expertly controlled the ball and calmly placed it into the net on the keepers nearside. Hougang pushed for a second and got their reward in the 76th minute when Hafiz Sujad recieved the ball out towards the left wing and ran towards goal before hitting the ball with precision to take it past the stranded Geyland keeper to make it 2-0 United. Geylang did try to get back into them and were awarded a penalty in the 82nd minute after winger Farhan Zulkifli allegedly handled the ball. In form Amy Recha made no mistake from the spot, sending the keeper the wrong way and making it 2-1. Despite there being time left in the game, there wasn't enough for Geylang to search for an equaliser.
Tanjong Pagar 1 v 2 Lion City Sailors
It was the Sailors who dominated the game from first whistle and should have arugbably had a penalty after the ball struck the arm of Pagar defender Shakir Hamzah, however the referee waved away the appeals. Both sides had chances in the front of goal, but were unable to covert, with most shots being fired over the bar. It was in the 42nd minute when the Sailors struck gold. Haiqal Pashia received the ball outside the box and fired in a wonderful dipping shot from about 25 yards out which left the Jaguars keeper clawing at thin air in attempt to keep it out. In the 56th minute, LCS were awarded a freekick on the left side which Shahdan Sulaiman fired into the box. Stipe Plazibat headed the ball down and into the path of Jorge Felipe to tuck the ball away to make it 2-0. In the 77th minute, Tanjong won a freekick of their own just outisde the Sailors box. Rusyaidi Salime and Luiz Junior stood over the ball, but it was the latter who struck the ball superbly to curl it over the stretching Hassan Sunny and into the top right corner. That marks Luiz Juniors' 10th goal of the season.
Young Lions 0 v 1 Albirex Niigata (S)
The Swans got off to a quick start, with Ryosuke Nagasawa scoring a penalty in the 3rd minute after Ong Yu En was tripped in the box. However, from then Albirex did struggle to create many opportunities due to the strong defensive performance from the Young Lions. They limited Niigata's chances to a bare minimum and put their bodies on the line to keep the score at 1-0. The Young Lions even had their own chances in front of goal, but couldn't find the mark. Overall it was quite a poor showing from the league leaders, who you would've expected to dominate the game. But credit has to be given to the Young Lions who dug in deep and showed some grit and fight, despite the opposition.
Geylang International 3 v 1 Tampines Rovers
Starting off, Rovers were arguably the better side of the two, creating chances, attacking threat and ball possession. The Stags forward Boris Kopitović, did look to cause trouble, however Geylang goalkeeper Wayne Chew was able to make some good saves. However, this would only last so long. Right before the end of the first half, Tampines won a corner and the ball was curled in towards the near post for Boris to head into the goal. Rovers almost made it 2-0 straight from kick off in the second half when Kyoga Nakamura tried an audacious shot from the half way line to attempt to catch out the Geylang keeper. Chew did just enough to keep the ball out of the net. It was then that Eagles began to soar. In the 59th minute, Moresche received the ball inside the box and used his strength to hold it up until an opportunity arised. In comes Danny Kim, where Moresche layed it off brilliantly outside of the box and Kim smashed it into the top right corner. Geylang made is 2-1 in the 65th minute when Van Huizen saw Amy Recha running towards the box. The midfielder hit a wonderful pass towards Amy, who took one touch to control it and another to fire into the top left corner just inside the box. The comeback was on and in the 76th minute, Amy Recha and Barry Maguire played some lovely one touch passing along the right wing, before a give and go for Barry to pass into the box and Van Huizen to hit first time into the net. The Stags did attempt to get back into the game, but the defence and keeper Wayne Chew stood strong, making some good saves and his defenders making a goaline clearance to ensure the three points.
Matchweek 17 Fixtures
Lion City Sailors v Hougang United | Friday 27th August | 12:45pm UK Time
Despite holding onto the top spot, the Sailors could only cling onto it for 24 hours until Niigata won over Young Lions. The gap remains at three points, but the Sailors have played one less game. They will be sure to come out fighting as they play their remaining 6 games in the league. Meanwhile Hougang will look to build on their win over Geylang last week, with an impressive performance from Hafiz Sujad.
Albirex Niigata (S) v Balestier Khalsa | Saturday 28th August | 10:30am UK Time
Balestier shocked everyone when they thumped Tampines 5-2 last weekend, with Šime Žužul getting a hat-trick. After finally winning a match for the first time in 10 games, will we finally see the Tigers roar? Despite Niigata's win at the weekend, it was a very narrow 1-0 win over a Young Lions side. The Young Lions managed to frustrate Albirex with their defensive performance, limiting their attacks on goal. The White Swans will know that LCS are breathing down their necks, so they will need to get a result this Saturday. Three points minimum. But perhaps Balestier can cause an upset and Žužul is in fantastic form at the moment. Certainly my game to watch this weekend.
Geylang International v Young Lions | Saturday 28th August | 10:30am UK Time
After staging a successful comeback, Geylang will be confident heading into this game on Saturday. The likes of Moresche, Amy Recha and Van Huizen looked fnatatsic last time out, with Barry Maguire making some magnificent crosses and passes. However, the Young Lions looked good in their game out against the league leaders Niigata. Holding them to a narrow 1-0 win. The defence but in a brilliant performance, whereas the attack were also looking to create chances. Their downfall ultimately on that final ball. Yet, the Lions have looked better with each passing week and are perhaps starting to show their development as they grow with each game.
Tampines Rovers v Tanjong Pagar | Sunday 29th August | 10:30am UK Time
Since crashing out of the AFC Champions League, things are going from bad to worse for Tampines. Despite their best attempts to forget the disappointment, the Stags have performed poorly since their return, especially in defence. In the game against Khalsa, defensive errors and misjudgement directly led to 3 goals being conceded in the 5-2 loss at the weekend. But perhaps, Montenegrin forwad Boris Kopitović can lead the line in attack and push Tanjong back. The legendary Khairul Amri and Luiz Junior could also be up for a good battle for the Jaguars.
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.