News • August 26, 2016

Super Subs Help Eagles Clinch Victory At The Death

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Written by: Shawn Lim

Geylang International had all three of their substitutes to thank as they came from behind to hand Balestier Khalsa a 2-1 defeat in a Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League match on Thursday night at Bedok Stadium.

The Tigers looked set to hold on for a draw after Mark Hartmann had cancelled out Niko Tokic’s strike from the spot in first-half stoppage time, but Shahfiq Ghani and Stanely Ng came off the bench in the second period to set up fellow substitute Sahil Suhaimi for the winning goal.

The victory for the Eagles sees them rising up from sixth place in the league table into fourth with 28 points, one point behind third-placed Brunei DPMM, which keeps their hopes of qualifying for the 2017 AFC Cup as the second-best local team very much alive.

The game took time to get going in the first period, but it was the Eagles who were given a golden opportunity to take the lead on 19 minutes when Gabriel Quak drifted inside of Ahmad Syahir before picking out Hartmann at the far post with a tantalising cross.

The striker showed off his superior aerial abilities by climbing above Fadli Kamis to meet Quak’s cross, but headed the ball over the crossbar and onto the roof of the net.

Balestier’s Jamil Ali looked lively on the left-wing, and saw an effort from inside the area hit the crossbar after being played through by Miroslav Kristic on 22 minutes as the Tigers came close to breaking the deadlock themselves.

Jamil was again at the heart of the next attack three minutes before the break, as he broke and picked out Syafiq Zainal on the edge of the box and the latter played Kristic through on goal.

The Croatian striker’s path towards goal was abruptly halted after he was hacked down by Nor Azli Yusoff inside the 18-yard box and Tokic stepped up to send Eagles custodian Syazwan Buhari the wrong way with the resulting spot-kick.

Balestier’s joy at going ahead was shortlived though, as Hartmann restored parity for the hosts on the stroke of half-time as his low and hard free-kick from the left flank went in off the foot of the far post.

Eagles coach Hasrin Jailani acted quickly in trying to regain the upper hand immediately after the break, bringing on Sahil for Nor Azli at the start of the second period, before sending on Ng for Quak shortly after.

The attacking switch almost paid off on 57 minutes when Hartmann manufactured himself a bit of space on the right flank before sending in a wonderful ball for Sahil, whose backheel crept narrowly wide of the mark.

Balestier were enjoying spells of possession, but Syazwan remained untested until the 78th minute when substitute Zulkiffli Hassim sprung the offside trap and went through on goal. However, the winger blasted the ball into the side-netting as the goalkeeper did well to cover his angles.

Sensing that the Tigers’ confidence had begun to grow after Zulkiffli’s miss, Hasrin made another attacking change a minute later by bringing on Shahfiq for Hartmann.

Like Sahil, Shahfiq also wasted no time in making his presence felt and came close to giving his side the lead on 88 minutes with a free-kick from 20-yards out that grazed the side-netting.

A promising Balestier attack was narrowly ruled out for offside soon after, which allowed the Eagles to seize the initiative and pour forward as all three of Hasrin’s personnel changes combined to put Geylang ahead for the first time in the game.

Ng sent Shahfiq racing down the right flank before the latter crossed for Sahil to finish from close-range despite Tigers custodian Daniel Ong getting a hand to the ball and sent the Eagles bench into frenzied celebrations.

Geylang would hold onto their lead for the remainder of the match as any hopes of a dramatic comeback for the Tigers diminished when they were reduced to 10 men in the dying minutes of the game after Zulkiffli was shown a straight red card for dissent.

Geylang International coach Hasrin Jailani: “We left it late to win the game, but I can see that my players put in the effort and it is an important victory for us because it allows us to move up the table.

“We deserved the three points because of how we tried to play football and kept possession. The goal right at the end of the first-half was the turning point because we came out in the second-half knowing that we were still in the game.

“If we had went into the second-half a goal down, then we had to work even harder to catch up.”

Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic: “I am very disappointed with the loss because we played very well and created a lot of chances.

“We were the better team and we playerd much better than them, but then this is football, if you don’t take your chances, then you lose.”

Geylang International: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Anders Aplin, Yuki Ichikawa, Daniel Bennett, Faritz Hameed, Isa Halim (C), Nor Azli Yusoff (Sahil Suhaimi 46′), Carlos Delgado, Shawal Anuar, Gabriel Quak (Stanely Ng 58′), Mark Hartmann (Shahfiq Ghani 77′)

Balestier Khalsa: Daniel Ong (GK), Fadli Kamis, Sheikh Abdul Hadi (C), Ahmad Syahir, Ho Wai Loon (Shah Hirul 72′), Emir Lotinac, Jamil Ali (Zulkiffli Hassim 75′), Hazzuwan Halim, Syafiq Zainal (Fadhil Noh 60′), Miroslav Kristic, Niko Tokic