It took a bit of huffing and puffing, but the Lion City Sailors eventually toppled Tanjong Pagar United’s defensive walls on Saturday (27 May) evening to maintain their perfect start to the Deloitte Singapore Women’s Premier League (WPL).  

Yeong Sheau Shyan’s charges dominated proceedings at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium, dispatching the Jaguars 2-0 in what was their fourth win in four WPL outings in 2023. 

“We did well against a team that was sitting deep. They had only one striker up front and the space at the back was tight, so it was really tough,” said Sheau Shyan. “Last year, when teams played like that, we struggled and took a long time to penetrate and score.

“I’m happy with the progress that we are showing.” 

The match commenced as it often has against opposition set up in a low block – with the Sailors dominating possession – but on Saturday, they started to find a way through early. 

The Sailors threatened as early as in the eighth minute when a Miray Altun freekick found Lila Tan, who saw her powerful shot beat Tanjong Pagar goalkeeper Nurul Haziqah Haszman but not the crossbar. 

Lila would not be denied, staying sharp in a melee following Nur Syazwani Ruzi’s corner to flick home a header for her first goal of the season in the 19th minute. 

“It’s an amazing feeling to score, for sure, but it’s really all about the team. Everyone played their best tonight, stayed very disciplined in our positioning and really followed what Coach Sheau Shyan taught us,” said the forward, who turns 20 on 4 June. 

The victory was sealed deep into injury time when the irrepressible Nur Izzati Rosni dazzled past the Tanjong Pagar defence to deliver a cross, which Madison Telmer got a touch to, before 15-year-old substitute Ardhra Arul Ganeswaran popped up at the far post to slot home.

“We had three players at the far post and Ardhra was the one that put the ball in. I’m really proud of her, she was an enterprising presence on the Sailors’ left flank,” said Sheau Shyan, who had much to smile about on the night especially on the sprinkling of talent that is now beginning to emerge from the Sailors’ Girls Academy.

Ardhra is the first player promoted from the Academy to score a WPL goal for the Sailors, while her peers Josephine Ang and Natasha Naszri also came on as second-half substitutes. 

Fellow teenager Madelin Sophie Lock – who turned 16 few days ago – was also handed her Sailors Women debut and put in an encouraging display at the heart of midfield alongside Madison. 

“Madelin did a good job today, she was steady, calm, and elegant during the first half. Performances like these are a testament to our Academy’s effectiveness in terms of producing players who can comfortably step into the WPL,” said Sheau Shyan.

“We have to keep preparing for the young players to step in at any time and with the likes of Madelin, Natasha and Ardhra in the team, the Sailors future looks bright.”

The Sailors Women will next take to the pitch some three weeks later, facing fellow WPL title challengers Albirex Niigata (S) on Sun, 18 June at the Yishun Stadium.