Eagles Clinch TNP League Cup Plate Trophy To End Seven-Year Silverware Drought
By Kevin Prasad on 31 July 2016
Geylang International FC narrowly edged past the 10-man Hougang United FC with a 2-1 score line, to clinch ‘The New Paper’ League Cup 2016 Plate trophy at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Eagles finally earned a type of silverware after a seven-year long barren run and the triumph will certainly spur on Geylang to maintain their winning momentum till the end of the season – remaining right games, in stellar fashion.
Mark Hartmann and Shawal Anuar gave the Bedok-based club a two-goal lead, but a former Eagle, Jozef Kaplan, pulled a goal back for the Cheetahs, minutes before interval. The Eagles, then survived a second-half onslaught by the Cheetahs, to get their hands on the inaugural Plate Winners’ trophy.
The first opportunity of the game fell to Hougang, as early as the first minute, when Iqbal Hussein unleashed a thunderous volley high and wide from inside the box. Five minutes later, Geylang failed to clear Fumiya Kogure’s free-kick and the ball fell to Afiq Noor, whom lashed a first-time effort at goal, which glided across the face of goal.
In the 27th minute, Hartmann’s terrific piece of skill turned his marker at the edge of the box, before rifling an attempt which Ridhuan Bahrudin parried away. However, the onrushing Roberto Camarasa got on the end of the rebound, but his acrobatic effort failed to hit the mark.
The elusive breakthrough came in the 33rd minute when Yuki Ichikawa delivered a pin-point long punt towards Hartmann, whom brilliant beat the offside trap and found himself in a ‘1v1’ situation. The colossal striker, then calmly lobbed a shot over the flailing Ridhuan, to break the deadlock.
Three minutes later, a moment of brilliance by Shawal, doubled the Eagles’ lead. Hartmann picked out Shawal with a searing through ball and the stalwart winger singlehandedly mazed his way past four defenders, before executing a composed yet blistering finish into the net.
With the first-half coming to an end with the Eagles having a comfortable two-goal, a sudden change of unexpected event took place. In the dying seconds of first-half additional time, Hougang’s captain, Jozef Kaplan pulled a goal back for the Cheetahs with a breath-taking finesse shot, after receiving a no-look pass from team-mate Fumiya.
After the break, the Cheetahs pressed numbers forward in a bid to clinch the much sought-after equalizer, whilst Geylang tried their very best to ride out the storm or possibly land the knockout blow.
Geylang’s Spaniard play0maker, Camarasa had intelligently squeezed pass two defenders before teeing up Shawal inside the box. Unfortunately, the fleet-footed winger’s strike was high and wide as it sailed way above the goal.
Soon later, substitute Stipe Plazibat picked out Fumiya inside the box, and the latter took a crack at goal, with a low pile-driver. Nevertheless, Hairul Syirhan’s quick reflexes with his legs made an excellent block, to send it out for a corner-kick.
The Eagles’ back-line was well marshalled by Anders Aplin, whom played in an unorthodox position, and together the Eagles denied the countless waves of attack by the Cheetahs.
In the 77th minute, Hougang had a wonderful chance to equalize, but substitute, Fairoz Hasan’s volley ballooned way over goal, despite being only eight yards out.
There was another chance for Geylang to kill off the match as the game approached its final minutes, but substitute Fahrish Khan blasted his effort over, after a well-timed run to meet debutant Shahfiq Ghani’s looping cross.
Hougang’s woes were compounded as full-time loomed, as they were reduced to 10 men deep in stoppage time, after Delwinder Singh received his second yellow of the game for verbally abusing the match officials and the final whistle arrived seconds later.
Speaking after the game, Geylang’s Head Coach, Hasrin Jailani was elated with securing a trophy in his first season in charge, even if the prize was just a Plate, “Today we had the luck on our side, as we worked really hard in the second half deny Hougang the four or five chances and kept them at bay. For us this League Cup Plate journey was due to our hard work and we went all out to achieve that. Nothing beats hard work and we hope to carry the winning momentum into the last round of the S.League.”
Full Time : Hougang United FC (Jozef Kaplan 45’) 1 – 2 (Mark Hartmann 33’, Shawal Anuar 36’) Geylang International FC
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Anders Aplin
Geylang International FC: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Anders Aplin, Yuki Ichikawa, Nor Azli Yusoff, Isa Halim (C), Roberto Camarasa (Fahrish Khan 82′), Umar Akhbar (Taufiq Ghani 45′), Shawal Anuar, Stanely Ng (Shahfiq Ghani 90′), Mark Hartmann
*Photos Courtesy of S.League