Eagles End Four-Year Tigers’ Curse With A Comeback Victory
By Kevin Prasad on 15 May 2016
After four S.League seasons, Geylang International finally mustered a victory against Balestier Khalsa after enduring five draws and five defeats.
Geylang etched a stunning comeback win, as they cruised to a 3-1 triumph over 10-man Balestier, at the Toa Payoh Stadium on Saturday evening.
The hosts took the lead through Fadhil Noh’s superb finish, but Geylang managed to stage a comeback with Branko Cubrilo’s brace alongside Carlos Delgado’s perfectly converted spot-kick, before the Tigers, were condemned to a man down with Syafiq Zainal’s dismissal in injury-time.
The ‘men in green & white’ dominated proceedings right from the kick-off as the Tigers were made to chase shadows because of the Eagles’ slick passing and movement.
Just two minutes into the fixture, Shawal Anuar dribbled his way into the box and released a wonderful low cross to the onrushing Carlos, whom inopportunely slipped, as he was about to pull the trigger from close range.
In the 10th minute, Safirul Sulaiman pounced on a poor Balestier clearance inside the box, and fired a rocket, which unfortunately fizzled straight into Zaiful Nizam’s gloves.
However, against the run of play, Balestier drew first blood in the 20th minute, with a splendid counter-attack execution. With the Eagles’ committing one too many players for a corner-kick, Balestier’s Fazli Ayob picked up the clearance and released a pin-point pass towards Fadhil, whom outpaced Daniel Bennett, to stab his shot past Syazwan Buhari.
A minute later, Gabriel Quak had a magnificent chance to equalize with an instantaneous reply, after Zaiful misjudged Shawal’s cross and landed on the ground, leaving an open goalpost. However, the wing wizard got his bearings surprisingly wrong, as he channelled his acute shot into the side-netting instead.
Nevertheless, Geylang got what they deserved in the 39th minute – an elusive equalizer. Balestier, once again failed to clear their lines and this time, the Tigers were duly punished. Branko took advantage of the defensive mix-up and unleashed a 30-yard ‘bazooka’ volley, which crashed into the top corner, leaving Zaiful rooted to the ground.
Six minutes later, Syazwan saved the Eagles’ blushes as Miroslav Kristic played a delightful ball to Smajvoic Sadin, whom then attempted to ‘finesse’ his shot past the custodian. However, Syazwan saved the Eagles’ blushes, with a superb diving save.
With the scores levelled, both teams emerged from the break with all guns blazing, looking to ride on their momentum after their respective goal, in the first-half.
Balestier had the first chance of the second-half, as Fadhil raced towards the goal, with the Geylang defenders breathing down his neck. Without much thought, the striker discharged a bullet, which fortunately ricocheted off the post and out of play.
Soon later, Geylang were awarded a penalty as Gabriel was tugged back and brought down by Nurullah Hussien in the 66th minute. Carlos sent Zaiful the wrong way with his spot-kick, but was ordered to retake it due to an infringement. The Argentine playmaker, then stepped up, picked his spot and made no mistake to give Geylang the lead and also register his fifth goal of the season.
10 minutes later, Branko ensured that Geylang recorded their third consecutive victory as he placed the ‘icing on the cake’, with a stellar goal, from three yards out.
Faritz Hameed whipped in a delicious cross towards Yuki Ichikwa, whom nodded down a pass towards the ‘Croatian Bull’, whom slammed home his third goal of the season, which also sealed the win for the high-flying Eagles.
The men in green and white dominated the remainder of the game with confident ‘tiki-taka’ passing, which frustrated the Balestier camp and the Tigers’ miseries were compounded when Syafiq was sent off in injury time, after a reckless challenge on Nor Azli.
Speaking after the game, Geylang International’s Head Coach Hasrin Jailani, was contented in securing another three points and that his target-man tripled his goal tally. “I think back-to-back victories are better than back-to-back draws. The winning mentality is slowly setting in, but we got an interesting encounter against the White Swans, so it will be back to the whiteboard and training routines on Monday,” said Hasrin, with a cheeky smile.
The ex-Singapore international also added, “Branko is a determined player, with an exemplary attitude on and off the pitch. He has been working hard from day one and I am extremely delighted that he has broken the jinx of being a one-goal pony”.
Geylang International FC will face current league leaders, Albirex Niigata (S) in their next fixture, at the Jurong East Stadium on 20th May 2016!
Full Time : Balestier Khalsa FC (Fadhil Noh 20’) 1 – 3 Geylang International FC (Branko Cubrilo 39’, 76’ & Carlos Delgado 66’)
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Branko Cubrilo
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Daniel Bennett, Fartiz Hameed, Al-Qaasimy Rahman (Shariff Samat 60′), Nor Azli Yusoff (C), Safirul Sulaiman (Taufiq Ghani 86′), Carlos Delgado (Amy Recha 77′), Gabriel Quak, Shawal Anuar, Branko Cubrilo
*Photos Courtesy of S.League