They huffed and puffed, and after 86 gruelling minutes, finally brought the resilient Brunei DPMM house down.

In doing so, the Lion City Sailors maintained their 100% record in the 2024/25 Singapore Premier League (SPL), making them the only team in the league to remain perfect this season.

Goals from Shawal Anuar and Maxime Lestienne in the 87th and 95th minute respectively helped the Sailors secure all three points against DPMM, who suffered their first defeat of their campaign.

The Sailors’ 2-0 victory at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday (18 June) night also marked a new club record of eight consecutive SPL wins – an impressive streak that dates back to July 2023. 

This is also the first time that the Sailors have won their first three games of the season since its inception in 2020.

Despite the win, Sailors Head Coach Aleksandar Ranković admitted there were aspects of the game, particularly in the attacking third, where he felt his side could have performed better. Nevertheless, he credited their never-say-die spirit for eventually securing the breakthrough.

“We didn’t capitalise on a few good chances in the first half. In the second half, DPMM made it very tough – they were really compact and didn’t allow us much space,” the Serb explained.

“I felt we could have done better and moved the ball faster. But credit to the boys, they gave everything, and I have to say it was a well-deserved win for us in the end.”

The match also saw new signing Lennart Thy make his Sailors debut – the former Dutch Eredivisie forward proved to be a lively presence up top, linking play well and coming close to scoring on several occasions.

While Lennart— who was substituted in the 69th minute for M. Anumanthan — did not score, his overall performance was encouraging enough for Ranko to feel optimistic about what he can bring to the team in the months ahead.

“The plan was always to substitute him off in the second half as he’s still settling in and quite fatigued,” Ranko revealed. “We’re being very cautious with how we handle him. He’s proven he can score goals at the highest level, and I’m sure we’ll see a different Lennart in the coming weeks.”

The Sailors started the match brightly and quickly asserted their dominance in the first 45 minutes, creating numerous promising goalscoring opportunities. 

However, their efforts were thwarted by a combination of wasteful finishing and outstanding goalkeeping from DPMM’s Macedonian goalkeeper, Kristijan Naumovski, with the 35-year-old producing at least four crucial saves to deny Lennart, Maxime, and Bart Ramselaar in a half where the Sailors outshot DPMM 16 to 5.

DPMM gained a stronger foothold after the break and came close to breaking the deadlock in the 68th minute through Julio Cruz. However, the Mexican forward’s speculative drive from 35 yards out was denied by the woodwork. 

That was the cue for Ranko to rejig his frontline, as Song Uiyoung came on to support Shawal, who moved from the flanks to go up top.

The change helped Ranko’s charges keep the pressure on DPMM, and they would finally reap the rewards of their endeavour in the 87th minute through the ever-reliable Shawal.

When the DPMM defence failed to clear Toni Datković’s inswinging cross, Shawal – who had taken the captain’s armband after Hariss Harun was substituted – controlled the ball with a deft touch before executing an acrobatic volley to score and give his side the lead.

The goal means the 33-year-old has now scored in each of his four appearances this campaign, including the season-opening SPL Community Shield.

Reflecting on his match-winning strike, Shawal said, “My goal was a result of the team’s hard work to get this win. We’re happy with this result, but it’s back to the training ground tomorrow – we want to improve further as a team, play good football and continue to deliver victories for our fans to savour.”

But the Sailors were not done just yet. In the fifth minute of injury time, Shawal turned provider as he teed up Maxime, who cut inside onto his favoured left foot and curled a stupendous drive from the edge of the box beyond a hapless Naumovski.

As a result of the win, the Sailors have moved up to second in the table, a point behind BG Tampines Rovers, who have played a game more. The Sailors will next take on defending SPL champions Albirex Niigata (S) at Bishan Stadium on Sunday (23 June) evening.