Eagles And Stags Share The Spoils In Pulsating Eastern Derby
By Kevin Prasad on 16 February 2016
Geylang International and Tampines Rovers contested in a tight affair, which ended 3-3, to open their Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League 2016 campaign at the Jurong West Stadium, on Monday evening.Close to 3000 spectators were present to witness the first Eastern Derby of the season, as well as to catch a glimpse of former Liverpool and Arsenal winger, Jermaine Pennant, in his S.League debut.
However, one would certainly agree that the end-to-end action, two red cards, six-goal thriller and boisterous crowd support, surpassed all hype and anticipation.
It was an entertaining game that had plenty of goals, as the Eagles came from behind twice, to then take the lead towards the end, but ultimately had to settle for a point, as their opponents levelled the score, with a last-gasp equalizer.
A youthful yet dynamic Geylang squad, whom started the game brightly, were presented with two early chances to open the scoring with Shariff Samat’s point blank header and Safirul Sulaiman’s shot glancing wide.
However, the hosts, Tampines drew first blood in the 13th minute, as Jordan Webb exchanged a ‘one-two’ pass with Billy Mehmet, before unleashing a shot which took a wicked deflection, to lob over Geylang’s custodian, Syazwan Buhari.
The title favourites, Tampines continued to press on and were then rewarded with another goal in the 34th minute. The Stags’ latest foreign signing, Billy Mehmet got on the end of Hafiz Sujad’s pin-point cross and executed a fantastic volley to clinch his first S.League goal, on his debut.
Nevertheless, the Stags’ celebrations lasted for barely a few seconds, as the Eagles pulled one back with an instant reply, immediately from the restart. Geylang’s fleet-footed winger, Amy Recha picked up a loose ball on the right flank and dazzled his way into the box, before firing past Izwan, 10 minutes before the half-time break.
After the interval, Geylang renewed with a sense of confidence, began to dominate possession as the Bedok-based club searched for the equalizer.
Their hard work indeed paid big dividends as the Eagles’ capitalized on a poor clearance in the 55th minute, which Carlos Delgado intelligently pounced on, to unleash a thumping first-time volley into the bottom right corner. The Argentinian’s outstanding equalizer, produced waves of emotions and boisterous chants by the away supporting contingent.
Soon later, with the scored levelled at 2-2, the Stags’ Head Coach, V.Sundramoorthy introduced his secret weapon and prized winger, Pennant, in hopes of turning the tables around. Nonetheless, the Tampines fans‘ excitement was short lived, as their skipper Noh Rahman, was given his marching orders with a second yellow card, for a reckless challenge on Al-Qassimy, just before the hour-mark.
That instantaneously gave a shot of confidence for the Eagles, whom began to string passes, to break down the 10-men Tampines’ side. The men in green then successfully established a 3-2 lead in the 79th minute, as Branko Cubrilo intelligently set-up substitute, Stanely Ng, who discharged a perfect top-corner finish, inside the box.
With Geylang netting a possible winner late in the game against a 10-man team, one was wrong to write off the five-time S.League champions, Tampines.
Just as the Eagles thought they had secured three points, Yasir Hanapi picked up a pass from target-man Billy, and launched a looping missile into the top corner with his first touch, from the edge of the box in the 85th minute.
However, two minutes later, the hero turned villain as Yasir was brandished a second yellow card, for an elbow at Gabriel Quak, which sent him into the dressing room.
With Tampines, down to 9 men, Geylang pushed forward in numbers, and were almost rewarded with a fairy-tale ending, deep in injury-time. The men in green and white, nearly grabbed a winner via Taufiq Ghani’s close range piledriver, but former LionsXII custodian, Izwan executed a terrific diving save to singlehandedly, earn a point for the star-studded Stags.
Speaking after the game, Geylang International’s Head Coach Hasrin Jailani, was relatively delighted with the team’s performance. “Instead of being disappointed [at not getting the win], I’m very happy with how my team played,” said Hasrin.
The 40-year-old also added, “Going 2-0 down, and trying to get a goal back, they reacted very well as a team collectively. We are very happy from that aspect, from going on and not giving up and working hard.”
Geylang International FC will now look forward to their next game against defending S.League champions, Brunei DPMM FC, at the Bedok Stadium on 20th Febraury 2016!
Full Time : Tampines Rovers FC (Jordan Webb 13’, Billy Mehmet 34’, Yasir Hanapi 85’) 3 – 3 Geylang International FC (Amy Recha 35’, Carlos Delgado 55’, Stanely Ng 79’)
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Shariff Samat
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Faritz Hameed, Yuki Ichikawa, Shariff Samat, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Nor Azli (C), Carlos Delgado, Safirul Sulaiman (Gabriel Quak 57′), Amy Recha, Branko Cubrilo (Taufiq Ghani 80′), Sahil Suhaimi (Stanely Ng 38′)
*Photos Courtesy Of S.League