DPMM FC's Rodrigo Tosi goes for a shot against Albirex Nigata (S) FC at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas yesterday. BT/ Saiful Omar
DPMM FC's Azwan Ali Rahman (R) chases down a ball against an Albirex Niigata (S) FC player last night at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas. BT/ Saiful Omar
DPMM FC survived their toughest test of the Singapore League (S-League) season so far with a 2-1 comeback triumph over Albirex Niigata (S) FC at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night.
The win, which is their seventh straight, stretches the team's lead at the top of the 12-team table to 10 points.
Their closest rivals Warriors FC and three-time defending champions Tampines Rovers are both on 21 points but still have a game in hand. Home United and Albirex are both a further one point adrift. Albirex had plenty of ball possession in the early going, using their short passes to work their way up the field.
They almost took the lead in the 17th minute but DPMM FC custodian Wardun Yussof did well to deny Kosuke Matsuda in a one-on-one situation. DPMM FC had a good chance two minutes later but the strike by Roberto Alviz was denied by the post.
Albirex got another chance in the 23rd minute but Wardun did well to deny Taiyo Nishida at the near post. Azwan Ali Rahman went down in the box at the half hour mark but was booked for diving.
Another chance came for DPMM FC in the 42nd minute after Roy O'Donovan was put through on goal after a one-two with Rodrigo Tosi but Albirex keeper Kazuki Kishigami did well to save the former's shot. Kazuki Sakamoto did put the ball behind the net just before the halftime whistle but was flagged for offside, resulting in a goalless first half.
The visitors finally broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute through Itsuki Yamada after slack defending by the home team saw the unmarked Albirex captain score from inside the box. The lead was shortlived as O'Donovan equallised for the hosts with a powerful strike that left Kishigami with no chance.
The momentum had clearly shifted in favour of DPMM FC after the former Sunderland striker's 11th goal of the campaign. O'Donovan almost added to this tally after a bicycle kick that went straight into the arms of Kishigami in the 68th minute.
The Irishman was a menace to the Albirex backline with his quick bursts of speed and was involved in the creation of the second goal. Hj Mohd Subhi Abdillah Hj Bakir sent a cross from the right to put the Irishman through on goal in between two Albirex defenders but he was brought down by Soichiro Tanaka in the box to win a penalty in the 71st minute.
Brazilian forward Rodrigo Tosi would fire home the ensuing spot kick for his 12th goal of the season. It was also his second against Albirex having scored the penalty against the Japanese outfits in the first meeting.
DPMM FC could have killed the match off in the 87th minute after Tosi put O'Donovan through on goal but Kishigami got to it first but the clearance landed at the feet of the Brazilian. Tosi would fire from outside the box but Kishigami recovered quickly to push the ball out for a corner.
There was drama late on after Azwan Salleh brought down Ota in the box but appeals for a penalty were waived off by Sukhbir Singh, ensuring that DPMM FC get a double over their opponents. DPMM FC will have a tough schedule ahead with a meeting against Warriors FC at the Choa Chua Kang Stadium in Singapore next Thursday.
Games against Home United on home ground and Tampines at the Clementi Stadium follow respectively. The competition continues today with Balestier Khalsa taking on the Young Lions at the Toa Payoh Stadium in Singapore.