Warriors FC was denied a double over opponents and current S-League champions Tampines Rovers as they lost narrowly 2-1 at a packed Jalan Besar Stadium.
Unable to build off their momentum from the previous season where they clinched the RHB Cup despite being a goal down, it seemed to be a similar story as the Stags dominated early play and deservedly took the lead after Kunihiro Yamashita out leapt the Warriors custodian.
The pressure was relentless and the Stags were soon 2-0 up after some fine work down the right wing with local hero Khairul Amri slotting in the second goal into a virtually empty net.
As though shocked into action, the Warriors began finding their feet with new marquee signing Kazayuki Toda providing the crowd glimpses of his footballing skills spanning the Japan national team and Tottenham Hotspur as he began to dictate play deep from midfield.
Linking up well with central defender Daniel Bennett and new signing Shi Jiayi, the trio began controlling the play with precise passing as they were faced with the formidable Stags midfield of Mustafic Fahrudin and Martin Wagner.
In the second half, the intentions of the Warriors were made obvious from the whistle as they stretched the Tampines Rovers defense time and time again only to be denied by excellent goal keeping and heroic defending.
The Warriors eventually scored through Sufian Anuar in the 55th minute and it looked as though the Stags’ defense was finally caving into the prolonged pressure. With Toda imperious in midfield and Bennett marshaling the back four, the Warriors were on the rampage.
As they threatened the Stags’ goal, the Warriors increasingly found themselves frustrated with half chances and wasteful finishing as the clock ticked closer to full time. Eventually, time played its card and the Stags managed to hold out for a 2-1 win over the Warriors.
Catch the video highlights of the match as well as our interview with Head Coach, V. Selvaraj on his thoughts about the match.