News • March 4, 2016
Tigers Prevent Eagles From Soaring To Summit
Written by: Shawn Lim
Geylang International missed the chance to go top of the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League 2016 table after being held to a goalless draw by Balestier Khalsa on Thursday evening at Bedok Stadium.
The share of the spoils between both sides meant that the Tigers are still without a win this season while the Eagles stretched their unbeaten run to four games and remain in second place with six points.
It was a scrappy game from the get-go, with tackles flying in thick and fast as both sides tried to wrestle control of the game and retain possession.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors just three minutes into the game when Fazli Ayob curled a tempting free-kick to the far post, but Fadli Kamis failed to get a touch the ball despite being at full-stretched.
With fouls being committed against the Eagles all over the pitch, the hosts had multiple opportunities to open the scoring with their set-pieces, but ultimately failed to make them count.
Faritz Hameed then had the opportunity to draw first blood for the Eagles in the 21st minute when Stanely Ng’s lofted pass sent the him through on goal. However, the defender’s shot was deflected out for a corner.
Balestier custodian Zaiful Nizam was then required to thwart Carlos Delgado’s fierce drive from just outside the box in the 36th minute, after the midfielder unleashed a piledriver from Branko Cubrillo’s knockdown.
It appeared that Tigers’ set-piece routines mainly involved Fazli and Fadli as both players combined again in the 42nd minute, but this time, Fadli sent his header high and wide of the mark while under pressure.
The Eagles should have taken the lead a minute later, but Gabriel Quak’s free-kick took a wicked deflection off the Balestier wall, before crashing off the top of the crossbar with Zaiful beaten.
With Al-Qaasimy Rahman having difficulties breathing because of a chest infection, Geylang coach Hasrin Jailani decided against a like-for-like substitution immediately after the restart, taking off the left-back for striker Indra Sahdan instead, to draw the Tigers out of their own half.
The move appeared to pay off handsomely six minutes later when Indra whipped in a dangerous-looking free-kick that look destined for the bottom corner of the net, but Zaiful got down well to smother the ball.
Zaiful’s agility was put to the test again just before hour-mark, when he pulled off a top-drawer save to tip away Yuki Ichikawa’s close-range header.
Miroslav Kristic had a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock for the visitors in the 64th minute, but sent his header wide from Jamil Ali’s looping cross despite being unmarked in the 18-yard box.
A minute later, Safirul Sulaiman pounced on a loose ball from just outside the box, but his fierce drive sailed wide of the goalpost.
Another one of Fazli’s free-kick found Sheikh Abdul Hadi lurking at the far post, but the defender sent his diving header into the side-netting.
Balestier had a chance to claim maximum points four minutes from time, but Eagles captain Isa Halim, making his first start this season, cleared the ball off the line after a close-range shot from substitute Hazzuwan Halim.
The Eagles continued to pour forward in search of a goal and thought they had found it when Brandon Koh’s pin-point cross from the left-flank found his fellow substitute Anders Aplin unmarked at the far post.
However, the 25-year-old debutant was taken by surprise by the cross and sent his awkward header over the crossbar as the final whistle arrived minutes later.
Geylang International coach Hasrin Jailani: “I am disappointed with the point because it is not easy to play against a team with 11 players in their own half. We didn’t create enough chances to win today.”
Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic: “Playing against Geylang at Bedok, I am happy to come away with a point.
“But in the second-half, we could have finished off the game because we had more chances than them.”
Geylang International: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Shariff Samat, Faritz Hameed, Al-Qaasimy Rahman (Indra Sahdan 46’), Isa Halim (C), Gabriel Quak (Brandon Koh 83’), Safirul Sulaiman, Stanely Ng, Carlos Delgado (Anders Aplin 78’), Branko Cubrillo
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Fadli Kamis, Hanafi Salleh, Nurullah Hussein, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Shah Hirul (Tan Danial Farhan 84’), Zulkiffli Hassim (Shafiq Zainal 66’), Jamil Ali, Fazli Ayob, Fadhil Noh (Hazzuwan Halim 53’), Miroslav Kristic