On paper, it looked to be a tricky fixture for the Lion City Sailors Women’s Team.

After all, Still Aerion had made an impressive start to the season, and was unbeaten in three Deloitte Singapore Women’s Premier League (WPL) games (two wins and one draw).

But at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Saturday (11 May) night, the Sailors’ quality shone through once again, as they ended Aerion’s unbeaten streak with a comfortable 4-0 victory to remain top of the WPL standings on 18 points.

The Sailors are three points ahead of their closest rivals, Albirex Niigata (S), who recorded an impressive 14-0 win over Balestier Khalsa earlier in the day.

While Albirex’s heavy win put the pressure back on the Sailors, Daniel Ong’s side remained calm and composed when they took to the field against Aerion.

Indeed, all that the Sailors squad was focusing on was playing their own game.

“We weren’t really concerned about Albirex’s result; our main focus was on getting the three points. As a team, we did well in our possession, and followed the game plan closely,” Sailors Captain Umairah Hamdan said.

Having also beaten Albirex and third-placed Hougang United earlier this season, Umairah believes the Sailors are only growing stronger with each game.

She elaborated, “Confidence is growing, especially among the younger players who are eager to step up even more than they already have. The passes within the team are getting better, leading to smarter runs and decisions. Additionally, we want to work towards scoring more goals to put some distance between us and Albirex in terms of goal difference.”

It took all of 13 minutes for the Sailors to strike on the night, and unsurprisingly, it was the league’s current top scorer, Raeka Ee, who made the decisive contribution.

The 20-year-old latched onto Madison Telmer’s perfectly weighted pass before coolly tapping the ball home from close range for her ninth goal of the season.

The Sailors continued to threaten the Aerion goal, but it was only in the 37th minute that they were able to double their lead, with Nur Syazwani Ruzi converting from the penalty spot after Aerion’s Bernice Lim was penalised for handling the ball in the box.

Any faint hopes of an Aerion comeback were promptly quashed three minutes into the second half, when Umairah’s hopeful free-kick from distance skidded on the wet pitch and wrongfooted the Aerion goalkeeper to give the Sailors a three goal lead.

Umairah made it 4-0 in similar fashion 13 minutes later, as her shot from distance bounced over the Aerion goalkeeper and ended up in the back of the net.

Reflecting on her goals, Umairah stated, “I usually take the free kicks for the team, and I’m quite good with the long balls. The goals just came naturally to me, but it was still quite thrilling. As a center back, my primary responsibility is to prevent goals, so being able to contribute offensively is a bonus.”

Despite the Sailors’ overall dominance, Aerion – boosted by the return of experienced Thai international Sunisa Srangthaisong after the lifting of a four-match suspension – occasionally posed a threat to Beatrice Tan in the Sailors goal.

One such moment occurred in the 59th minute, when Beatrice rushed off her line to smother a loose ball before an onrushing Carmen Calisto could get to it.

“I saw her coming and honestly I was a little scared as she showed no sign of slowing down,” Beatrice recounted. “My instinct was to just go for the ball even though it was a 50-50, but I knew I had to also protect myself. I was so relieved after collecting the ball.”

Having kept Aerion out, the Sailors have now recorded five clean sheets in six games, with their only blemish coming in a 2-1 win over Albirex in March.

Umairah attributed the Sailors’ defensive solidity to the team’s collective willingness to support and cover for each other. She elaborated, “If someone lets the ball through our defence, there’s always someone else to help cover for the mistake. We never give up because we are confident we can still recover the ball.”

Echoing Umairah’s sentiments, Beatrice added, “We always reassure each other not to worry about leaving our position because someone’s always going to be there to cover. Nobody ever blames another player. Whoever’s recovering the ball knows to delay while everyone else gets back to support. That shows both team spirit and good work rate.”

The Sailors will next turn their attention to BG Tampines Rovers, who they will play next Saturday (18 May) at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium.