Hartmann’s Heroics Break Tigers’ Hearts To Salvage A Point
By Kevin Prasad on 15 July 2016
Mark Hartmann scored a late brace as the gutsy Geylang International mount a roaring comeback against Balestier Khalsa, to record a 2-2 stalemate in their first The New Paper (TNP) League Cup Group B, fixture at Toa Payoh Stadium.
Goals from Niko Tokic and Fadhil Noh in the first-half gave the Tigers a dream start in their conquest for a piece of silverware this season. However, Hartmann’s double goal in the second-half, spoiled the Tigers’ party and earned the Eagles a deserved single point.
Balestier started the game brightly and went all guns blazing from the kick-off. Their hard work paid off as early as the ninth minute, as Tokic drew first blood with a powerful header from a corner-kick.
In the 21st minute, the Eagles almost equalized with Hartmann’s low pile driver from outside the box. However, the Tigers’ custodian Naqiuddin Nodin duly parried away the attempt to safety.
Two minutes later, Geylang were further punished for not taking their chances, as Balestier doubled their lead. Fazli Ayob whipped in a free-kick towards Fadhil, whom flicked the ball into the net from close-range, to give the Tigers a two-goal lead.
Once again, the Philippines national striker, Hartmann came close in netting a goal in the 36th minute. Nor Azli, scooped in a hopeful ball into the box, which Hartmann took it down with a sublime touch, before attempting to lob the keeper. However, the intelligent effort, unfortunately ended up in the roof of the net.
The Eagles’ target-man, had another wonderful chance to score before the half came to a close, but his close range rocket was comfortably saved by Nodin.
After the break, the Eagles’ Head Coach, Hasrin Jailani was persistent in chasing the game and tweaked his tactics by sending out Shawal Anuar for Ifwat Ismail, which indeed rejuvenated Geylang’s offense.
Within minutes of his introduction, Shawal’s low cross almost forced Nurullah Hussien to put the ball into his own net after the former’s dangerous cross into the box was narrowly deflected by the centre-back.
The resulting corner-kick was delivered by Shawal and it accurately found Shariff Samat, but the defender’s point-blank header, crashed off the top of the crossbar.
After much pounding on the Tigers’ goal, Geylang finally found the breakthrough in the 55th minute, as Hartmann rose the highest to meet Nor Azli’s pin-point cross, with a fine header to the back-post.
With that goal reducing the deficit, the Eagles were motivated to attack at all costs, as they pushed numbers forward, in search of an elusive equalizer.
In the 74th minute, Shariff delivered a through ball to the onrushing Shawal, whom raced into the box, before unleashing a wicked shot towards goal. Then again, Naqiuddin stood firm to deny the Eagles’ winger from close-range.
Soon later, Isa Halim almost got his name on the score-sheet when Hartmann nodded on Shawal’s cross into his path, as the Geylang captain scoffed his volley way wide of the target.
The Eagles’ finally turned the tide in the dying seconds of regulation time, as Hartmann exchange passed with Shawal, before the former released a unstoppable 35-yard ‘bazooka’ into the top left corner, to earn a point from the enthralling draw result.
Speaking after the game, Hasrin Jailani, whom was delighted with the result, “I am delighted with how we came back from two goals, but we definitely need to defend better because we conceded both goals through set-pieces because it was quite even in open play. One point is better than zero, it builds confidence for us to the next stage, but we need to improve to win our next few games.”
Full Time : Balestier Khalsa FC (Niko Tokic 9’, Fadhil Noh 23’) 2 – 2 (Mark Hartmann 55’, 89’) Geylang International FC
EAGLES’ Editor Man Of The Match: Nor Azli Yusoff
Geylang International FC: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Yuki Ichikawa, Shariff Samat, Isa Halim (C), Nor Azli Yusoff, Roberto Camarasa, Ifwat Ismail (Shawal Anuar 46′), Umar Akhbar (B. Jeevakumaran 83′), Indra Sahdan (Taufiq Ghani 66′), Mark Hartmann
*Photos Courtesy of S.League