Tampines held but Pennant shines with free-kick stunner
Giants fail to fire but Ilso and Pennant raise the cheers with special goals
HOME UNITED 1
(Ken Ilso 35)
TAMPINES ROVERS 1
(Jermaine Pennant 39)
The queue for tickets snaked all the way to the pavement outside Bishan Stadium.
And although Home United and title favourites Tampines Rovers did not dish out the spectacle the 3,551 fans - the season's record - who turned up for last night's big Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League clash had hoped for, the two goals they witnessed in the 1-1 stalemate would have been some consolation.
The two stunners, by Home's former Bundesliga forward Ken Ilso and Tampines' ex-Arsenal and Liverpool man Jermaine Pennant, certainly took the breath away.
Ilso broke the deadlock 10 minutes before the break.
After getting to a hopeful punt just ahead of Tampines defender Noh Rahman, the Dane sold the veteran with a superb body feint before firing into goal past Singapore international Izwan Mahbud.
Pennant, arguably the biggest signing in the S.League's 21-year-history, was not about to be undone.
Just four minutes after Ilso's strike, the former England Under-21 international curled a free-kick from 25 metres straight into the top corner of Hyrulnizam Juma'at's goal, leaving the shot-stopper rooted.
The two goals lit up an otherwise attritional affair between the two teams, who had set themselves up to counter each other's threat.
Home sat deep and allowed Tampines more of the ball so they would not be caught on the counter-attack, while Tampines started with lone targetman Billy Mehmet, leaving his regular partner, last season's 18-goal striker Fazrul Nawaz, on the bench.
The only other chance of note in the game came nine minutes before the end, when Home substitute Irfan Fandi's header was cleared off the line by Stags fullback Ismadi Mukhtar.
While there were no winners, the two camps did jostle for bragging rights over the two goals.
In the Tampines camp, coach V Sundramoorthy and Pennant were convinced the free-kick was the pick of the two.
Said Pennant: "Mine, for sure. It was close, but mine was better."
Sundram added: "It was a great free-kick. Ken had a bit of luck. His shot hit Izwan and deflected into the net."
But Home coach Philippe Aw felt his striker's goal was better.
"Ours was better, because it was planned for," he said. "We planned to sit back and hit on the counter, and it worked. Or maybe Tampines planned for that free-kick. I don't know."
- HOME: Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Juma'at Jantan, Abdil Qaiyyim, Shahrin Saberin, Sirina Camara, Song Ui Yong, Azhar Sairudin (Irfan Fandi 74), Zulfahmi Arifin (Sufianto Salleh 91), Aqhari Abdullah (Ikhsan Fandi 82), Faris Ramli, Ken Ilso
- TAMPINES: Izwan Mahbud, Ismadi Mukhtar, Noh Rahman, Afiq Yunos, Shakir Hamzah, Izzdin Shafiq, Shahdan Sulaiman, Yasir Hanapi, Jordan Webb, Jermaine Pennant, Billy Mehmet (Fazrul Nawaz 79)
- TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Abdil Qaiyyim (Home)
It is a bit frustrating, but it’s not based on one or two games, there are 24 more to go this season. And we’re still undefeated and we are just two points behind (league leaders) Albirex
— Pennant, on Tampines posting only one win and two draws in their first three S.League matches