| Fadhil Yunus |
DPMM FC inched closer to the S League title after Adi Said’s second half header proved enough to earn a 1-0 win over Albirex Niigata (S) at the Jurong East Stadium in Singapore last night.
The Brunei-based side moved back to the top of the S League standings by virtue of goal difference and locked on 50 points with Warriors FC.
The race for the S League title remains tight as ever but the journey ended for Albirex after a late dash for the championship.
The win was overshadowed by DPMM FC’s striker Roy O’Donovan’s dismissal in the dying minutes of the match though the initial yellow card may have been harshly awarded.
O’Donovan collided with Albirex’s goalkeeper Kenjiro Ogino in a 50-50 challenge but the referee decided to brandish a yellow.
DPMM FC had a goal ruled out in the first half as both sides applied pressure to each other.
Roberto Alviz also let fly a free kick wide with Ogino happy to see the ball rise over for a goal-kick.
With both sides playing in a neutral venue, Albirex caressed DPMM FC’s box and saw any advances confidently repelled by goalkeeper Azman Ilham Noor.
There was late drama in the end as the referee reached out for his pocket and brandished another yellow for a second bookable offence and sent O’Donovan off.
Just like in Kean’s introduction of the S League in the opening game, Kento Nagasaki proved a handful for the dangerous Japanese side and was the driving force behind Albirex’s attack.
Along with Kosuke Matsuda, Albirex looked very sharp up front and posed concerns to a DPMM FC who had already conceded 7 times in the third round of the S League.
The Gegar Gegar men did have a clean sheet in the end and a repeat of such a result against Tampines will win them the league title.
They have two days to recover before the players return to Jalan Besar Stadium – a happy ground after they clinched the League Cup title there – to play Tampines Rovers FC.
Albirex may have conceded the title chase but can play a significant part in the destination of the title regardless of the result at Jalan Besar Stadium. The White Swans play Warriors away at Choa Chu Kang Stadium- the team standing in the way of DPMM FC’s aspirations for a first S League title.