Tampines Rovers marked their return to the East after a six-year absence with a neat 2-0 win over struggling Brunei DPMM in front of 4,676 fans at Our Tampines Hub on Friday night.
Shakir Hamzah's first-half lob and Shahdan Sulaiman's late penalty helped the Stags claim their 10th win of the season to close within three points of leaders Albirex Niigata (S).
Back to their spiritual home from their temporary base at Jurong West Stadium, Tampines were determined to get off to a good start, and almost scored after just 30 seconds.
Forward Fazrul Nawaz just failed to get the vital touch to convert Shakir's teasing cross into the box.
Shakir then tested DPMM custodian Awangku Mu'izzuddin from distance, before Japanese winger Ryutaro Megumi fired over. The visitors were pinned down in their own half for the first 15 minutes.
The Stags broke the deadlock in the 28th minute.
Hafiz Sujad's lofted ball in the box lured out Mu'izzuddin, with Fazrul teeing up Shakir to lob home for the first-ever goal at the spanking new venue.
The setback stung DPMM into action as they almost levelled matters before the break.
Chilean forward Daud Gazale held off three defenders in the box before setting up captain Azwan Saleh. But the latter's shot crashed off the underside of the crossbar.
Most of the other chances in the second half came Tampines' way, with Hafiz Sujad forcing Mu'izzuddin to parry from a tight angle on 47 minutes.
The Wasps did go close on 59 minutes, with Adi Said getting past two men before firing a 20-yard shot that seemed destined for the bottom left corner. However, Tampines returning goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud - the Singapore international had missed the last six games through injury -- pulled off a superb save to palm the effort away.
Tampines kept threatening, with Hafiz firing straight at Mu'iuzzuddin and Fazrul somehow heading wide from Ismadi's right-wing cross.
Stags' coach Jurgen Raab then threw on Croatian forward Ivan Dzoni for centre-back Madhu Mohana over the final 15 minutes, which proved to be an inspired move.
The substitute earned a penalty off Azwan S, from which Shahdan calmly converted into the bottom left corner to double the advantage, sealing the Stags' victory.
While Tampines celebrated a valuable three points to mark their homecoming, DPMM's season went from bad to worse with their 11th defeat in 13 matches as they continue to languish second-from-bottom.
Their only bright spot this season was making the semifinals of the Singapore League Cup earlier this month, before losing to Warriors FC.
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Ismadi Mukhtar (Jufri Taha 90'), Madhu Mohana (Ivan Dzoni 75'), Mustafic Fahrudin (C), Daniel Bennett, Shakir Hamzah, Ryutaro Megumi, Son Yong Chan, Shahdan Sulaiman, Hafiz Sujad, Fazrul Nawaz (Khairul Amri 84')
Brunei DPMM: Awangku Mu'izzuddin (GK), Hanif Hamir, Haizul Rani, Hazwan Hamzah, Vincent Salas, Najib Tarif (Hendra Azam 59'), Nurikhwan Othman, Azwan Saleh (C), Adi Said (Maududi Hilmi 68'), Shahrazen Said, Daud Gazale (Azwan Ali 55')