Singapore Premier League • May 28, 2018

Fazrul the late derby hero as Tampines break Geylang hearts


The striker pounced on a defensive mistake to seal a dramatic 2-1 Eastern Derby victory.

Fazrul Nawaz wheels away after bagging the decisive strike.

SINGAPORE, 27 MAY 2018Tampines Rovers made it 10 Singapore Premier League (SPL) victories in a row against Eastern Derby rivals Geylang International with a 2-1 win on Sunday at the Bedok Stadium, with all the goals coming in the last seven minutes.

Fazrul Nawaz’s injury-time winner clinched the points for the Stags after Fairoz Hasan had cancelled out Ryutaro Megumi’s opener in a game dominated largely by the visitors, who surged to second in the table.

The visitors were in control largely from start to end and could won more comfortably had they been more clinical.

Megumi hit the bar after just seven minutes in a move started by Madhu Mohana’s long throw, before Zulfadhmi Suzliman drew a decent save from Geylang goalkeeper Zainol Gulam two minutes later.

Another Madhu long throw resulted in a Megumi volley, which flashed just wide of the goal.

Yasir Hanapi then failed to connect after Zainol pushed a Madhu cross towards him, while Fazrul messed up a simple header after Madhu set him up and Afiq volleyed wide from a Yasir corner as the chances piled up.

Tampines almost paid for their wastefulness two minutes before half-time when Shawal Anuar caught the Tampines back-line sleeping and latched onto a long ball to go through on goal.

But goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari was swift off his line and got a vital touch just as Shawal tried to nick the ball past him, foiling the Geylang sharpshooter.

Geylang began the second half in positive fashion and Fumiya Kogure really should have done better than to mishit Noor Ariff’s pass from 12 yards.

The action was end to end as Ryan Syaffiq cleared Afiq’s header off the line, while Zainol then did well to repel Jordan Webb’s low shot in the 79th minute.

But Tampines got the breakthrough they were looking for six minutes later. A quick counter-attack after Yuki Ichikawa lost the ball carelessly in the middle of the park saw Yasir’s cross fall for Zulfadhmi, who smartly found Megumi lying in wait to his left.

The Japanese winger needed no invitation to fire a powerful shot into the top right corner for his second league goal of the season.

The pair combined again four minutes later, but this time Zainol got a hand to prevent Megumi’s effort from going in.

That seemed to prove crucial when Fairoz Hasan brought the home fans to their feet on 90 minutes with the equaliser, a sweet strike from the edge of the box to cap a well-worked move.

Geylang could even have scored another through Shawal, who blasted over from close range, before they were hit with a sucker punch.

A hopeful ball from Yasir was missed by two green shirts and fell perfectly for Fazrul, who ruthlessly dispatched a left-footed finish to break Geylang hearts and make himself a derby hero.

Tampines will next play the Young Lions on 30 May at the Jalan Besar Stadium, while Geylang will go to Toa Payoh Stadium to take on Balestier Khalsa FC – thrashed 5-0 on the night by Albirex Niigata FC (S) – on 2 June.

Geylang Head Coach Hirotaka Usui: “Today was one of the best games we’ve had. We were very hardworking (and) there was great teamwork displayed. We did well to close down the Tampines players as well. But of course, we lost three points… but we gained a lot from this game.”

“I cannot blame Yuki for this defeat. Many times, he save us from going a goal down. I cannot speak about one mistake, I cannot criticise him. He had a big performance. I also cannot blame Shawal (for missing the chance at the end). We lost the ball too much (and so) a lot of times, Shawal need(ed) to run more to defend. So when we (do) bring the ball into the box, he’s a bit tired.”

Tampines striker Fazrul Nawaz: “It was an instinct from me (to run and get onto the ball to score). I have to expect the unexpected as a striker. Credit to Geylang for giving us a tough game; they are improving, they are getting better. But (I also want to say) sorry to Geylang for scoring the winner – they were my first club and this is where my career started.

“The three points are massive. In the last game against Albirex we should have gotten points … Overall, we have three games in hand. The pressure is definitely on us to win the games, then hopefully we can get closer to them.”

Geylang: Zainol Gulam (GK), Jufri Taha, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Darren Teh, Ryan Syaffiq, Fuad Ramli (Azhar Sairudin 87′), Fumiya Kogure, Ryson Yap (Sadiq Rahim 74′), Muhammad Noor Ariff (Fairoz Hasan 77′), Yuki Ichikawa (C), Shawal Anuar.
Unused subs: Basil Chan (GK), Yeo Hai Ngee, Ahmad Zaki, Cameron Bell.

Tampines: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Madhu Mohana (Irwan Shah 81′), Afiq Yunos, Amirul Adli, Zulfadhmi Suzliman, Ryutaro Megumi, Fazrul Nawaz, Jordan Webb, Shameer Aziq (Shah Shahiran 90’+2), Daniel Bennett (C), Yasir Hanapi.
Unused subs: Hariz Farid (GK), Haikal Hasnol (GK), Haziq Razzali, Faizal Raffi, Ryhan Stewart.

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