Eagles & Cheetahs Share The Spoils In Entertaining Encounter
By Andrew Ang on 21 May 2017
Geylang International played out an entertaining 1-1 draw with Hougang United in a game of many chances at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night
The Bedok-based club sprung a surprise by starting the match with three centre-backs, but went behind early on after Azhar Sairudin gave the Cheetahs the lead.
A second yellow for former Eagle Delwinder Singh early in the second half changed the entire scope of the match. The Eagles responded perfectly to their numerical advantage by scoring the equaliser through Argentine import Ricardo Sendra.
With no winning goal at the final whistle, the stalemate kept the Eagles in sixth place on 11 points after nine matches, two points behind their opponents.
The first chance of the match fell to Hougang in the fourth minute, and they found the back of the net when Fabian Kwok played a defence-splitting through ball to Azhar, who calmly slotted the ball past Geylang custodian Syazwan Buhari.
Moments later, Delwinder found himself in plenty of space down the right wing and managed to pick out Zulfahmi Arifin in the penalty area, but the Singapore international fired his shot straight at Syazwan.
However, Geylang gradually found their footing and grew into the match, with Costa Rican forward Victor Coto firing a shot just wide of goal as he was hastily closed down by Hougang defenders in the 20th minute.
That chance sparked life into the Eagles and midfielder Sendra almost managed to pull a shot away after good work by Amy Recha down the left wing, only to be thwarted by Hougang goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid.
Geylang had their best opportunity to equalise in the first half when Coto picked out an unmarked Sendra in the penalty area, but the Argentinian saw his well-timed half-volley tipped over the bar by Khairulhin.
Hougang ended the half strongly and had an array of chances to increase the lead, but were unable to convert them.
Japanese midfielder Fumiya Kogure missed a sitter in the 38th minute when he fired a shot horribly off target with only Syazwan to beat. Two minutes later, Kogure was guilty of spurning yet another golden opportunity when he fired a tame shot straight at Syazwan. And just before half time, Italian forward Antoine Viterale thumped a header wide of goal from Azhar’s free kick.
Geylang head coach Hasrin Jailani tweaked his line-up at the break as he brought on winger Gabriel Quak for the defensive-minded Nor Azli Yusoff, changing the Eagles formation to a 4-4-2.
They were nearly given a scare in the 49thminute though when Viterale headed Kwok’s cross into the back of the net, only for it to be ruled out for offside.
With chances at a premium, the game suddenly sparked into life in the 54thminute when Delwinder pulled back Geylang centre-back Yuki Ichikawa in the penalty box and was shown a second yellow card.
However, Coto slipped as he ran up to take the resulting penalty and fired his attempt way over the bar. To make matters worse, the 27-year-old was stretched off on the hour mark after picking up an injury and replaced by Shahfiq Ghani.
With numerical advantage on their side, the Eagles threw men forward and were duly rewarded in the 64th minute when Sendra powered Faritz Hameed’s cross from the right wing into the top left-hand corner with a bullet header.
The Argentine nearly gave the Eagles the lead three minutes later when his snapshot was tipped away by Khairulhin.
The final 20 minutes failed to produce any chances of note, apart from Stanely Ng’s effort from distance, which came crashing off the bar deep into injury time.
Speaking after the game, Eagles head coach Hasrin believed his side were not up for the challenge in the first half. “It was a game of two halves to be honest. We were quite bad defensively and in attack in the first half and showed no hunger and desire.”
“However, the red card changed the match and we were much better as a team in the second half. I must commend the players for the desire they showed from start to finish,” added the former Singapore international.
Asked whether the Eagles could have scored a winner by posing more of an attacking threat after scoring the equaliser, Hasrin said. “It’s simple to say that it’s easier to win the match with an extra man, but it’s actually tougher because you need to be equally good in defence and attack. If you end up conceding, it’s going to be worse.”
Geylang will take on Balestier Khalsa next at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday, 26th May, with kickoff at 7.30 pm.
Full Time: Geylang International FC (Ricardo Sendra 64’) 1–1 Hougang United FC (Azhar Sairudin 4’)
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Ricardo Sendra
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Nor Azli Yusoff (Gabriel Quak 46’), Yuki Ichikawa, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Faritz Hameed, Safirul Sulaiman, Isa Halim (C), Amy Recha (Ifwat Ismail 84’), Stanely Ng, Ricardo Sendra, Victor Coto (Shahfiq Ghani 60’)
*Photos Courtesy of S.League