DPMM FC moved back on top of the S.League with one round remaining after recording a hard-fought 1-0 win over Albirex Niigata (S) on Tuesday evening.
In a keenly-contested clash at the Jurong East Stadium, it was the Bruneians who enjoyed the dominant share of possession in the opening 45 but were just unable to carve out any real openings.
They did put the ball in the back of the net midway through the half when Rodrigo Tosi glanced home a corner at the near post, only for the strike to be chalked off after the Brazilian was adjudged to have shoved Kazuki Sakamoto in the process of winning the header.
Albirex had an excellent opportunity to take the lead shortly before the break when Itsuki Yamada created space for himself inside the area after skipping past Joe Gamble, but his fierce drive drew a smart save from Azman Ilham.
Nonetheless, the breakthrough did ultimately arrived a minute after the hour mark when Roy O’Donovan brought down Azwan Saleh’s long ball before chipping an inch-perfect cross onto the head of Adi Said, who made no mistake in nodding the ball past Kenjiro Ogino into the bottom corner.
The goal did spark the hosts into action but despite the best efforts of Sakamoto, Keisuke Ota and centre-back Norihiro Kawakami, who was thrown up forward in the closing stages of the game, they were just unable to find the equaliser.
However, there was still more drama to come in injury-time when O’Donovan, having been booked for not moving back to full ten yards at an opposition freekick, was shown a straight red seconds later after appearing to have mouthed off at referee Sukhbir Singh.
Although his dismissal did little to impact the result, he will now miss Friday’s decisive season-ending clash against Tampines Rovers.
Victory over the Stags at the Jalan Besar Stadium would be enough to guarantee Steve Kean’s charges their first-ever S.League crown, although they only have to match the result second-placed Warriors FC get against Albirex due to their vastly-superior goal difference.
Albirex Niigata (S): Kenjiro Ogino, Soichiro Tanaka, Kento Fujihara, Norihiro Kawakami (Hiroki Morisaki 90’), Itsuki Yamada, Shuhei Hotta, Koki Akasaka (Kazuya Okazaki 58’), Keisuke Ota (Kazuya Fukuzaki 82’), Kento Nagasaki, Kosuke Matsuda, Kazuki Sakamoto.
DPMM FC: Azman Ilham, Awangku Fakharrazi, Abdul Aziz Tamit, Boris Raspudic, Azwan Saleh, Joe Gamble, Roberto Alviz, Azwan Ali, Rodrigo Tosi, Roy O’Donovan, Adi Said (Shahrazen Said 88’).