Eagles Leave It Late Against Tigers With Great Escape
By Kevin Prasad on 26 August 2016
A last-gasp strike by Sahil Suhaimi ensured that Geylang International extended their winning streak, as the Eagles edged 10-men Balestier Khalsa 2-1, at the Bedok Stadiumon Thursday evening.
Balestier’s forward, Niko Tokic converted his spot-kick to put the Tigers in front midway through the first-half. However, the lead was cancelled out by Mark Hartmann’s vicious free-kick in the dying seconds of the first-half, before Sahil popped up with a winner at the death, to award Geylang the three points.
The hosts started the game brightly with much zest and enthusiasm in the opening exchanges, as they took the game to the visitors closing down their opposition quickly, whilst dominating possession in the process.
Geylang almost broke the deadlock in the 18th minute, when Gabriel Quak dazzled on the wings, before whipping in a cross towards the far-post, where Hartmann rose the highest to steer in a header. However, it failed to find the target, as the attempt sailed narrowly above the goal.
Four minutes later, the Tigers’ had their fair share and almost opened the scoring with a moment of brilliance from Jamil Ali. The veteran latched onto a through pass and tried to lob the onrushing Eagles’ custodian Syazwan Buhari, but the cheeky attempt crashed off the crossbar, instead.
Despite gaining the upper-hand in the highly contested fixture, an unfortunate error caused the Eagles to be on the back foot in the 40th minute. Nor Azli was caught dead in his tracks after Miroslav Kristic’s nifty footwork inside the box and accidentally hacked the attacker to the ground, which resulted in a penalty to the Tigers.
Balestier’s Croatian striker, Tokic then calmly dispatched his penalty into the right-bottom corner as he successfully converted the spot-kick by sending Syazwan the other way.
Trailing by a goal, Geylang were awarded a fabulous opportunity to net an equalizer with a 25-yard free-kick, in first-half additional time. The Eagles’ colossal striker, Hartmann, then stepped up and drilled a blistering attempt straight into the net after ricocheting off the post, before both teams headed to the tunnels for their break.
With the scores levelled and both team vying to establish the lead, the second-half proved to be a blockbuster. Both coaches introduced speedy and dynamic players, in a bid to get the elusive second goal for their respective sides.
Geylang introduced Sahil, Stanely Ng and Shahfiq Ghani for Nor Azli, Gabriel and Hartmann, respectively over the period of 20 minutes. Balestier also exhausted their three lifelines and brought on Zulkiffli, Fadhil Noh and Shah Hirul.
In the 78th minute, Zulkiffli raced past the Eagles’ offside trap and found himself on goal with only the keeper to beat, but instead flashed one wide into the side netting.
The ‘GreenWhiteArmy’ almost etched a lead with substiturte Shahfiq’s 20-yard free-kick attempt, but it instead crashed into the side-netting, despite the squeals of initial delight, from the Eagles’ fans.
With the momentum riding high in the Eagles’ camp, the game-winning decision swung the Geylang’s way as they went on to grab the winner, a few minutes later.
Shahfiq got on the end of Stanely’s incisive pass and duly squared a pass for Sahil to slam home the winner from close range, past the hapless Daniel Ong.
To compound matters for Balestier, the Tigers were reduced to ten men after Zukliffli was given his marching orders, after a red card was brandished, for talking himself into the book.
Speaking after the game, Geylang International’s Head Coach Hasrin Jailani, was satisfied and delighted with the triumph, “We left it late to win today, but the effort from the boys was there.The turning point was scoring just before half-time. That meant we came into the second half all level and we could play our game-plan.This win is really important for us and as long as we keep winning, we are still within the challenge for third spot in the league.”
Geylang International FC will now face league leaders, Albirex Niigata (S) FC, at Jurong East Stadium on 22nd September 2016, as the Eagles are desperate to extend their unbeaten streak to four games.
Full-Time: Geylang International FC (Mark Hartmann 45’, Sahil Suhaimi 90’) 2 – 1 (Niko Tokic [Pen] 42’) Balestier Khalsa FC
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Isa Halim
Geylang International FC: Syazwan Buhari, Faritz Hameed, Daniel Bennett, Yuki Ichikawa, Anders Aplin, Isa Halim, Nor Azli Yusoff (Sahil Suhaimi 46′), Carlos Delgado, Shawal Anuar, Gabriel Quak (Stanely Ng 58′), Mark Hartmann (Shahfiq Ghani 77′)
*Photos Courtesy of S.League