Singapore Premier League • April 4, 2018

Ten-man Geylang come from behind to deny Warriors opening win


The Eagles woke up after the break to peg back the nine-time champions at Bedok

Jonathan Behe made a scoring return to Warriors FC but it wasn’t enough for victory.

SINGAPORE, 4 APRIL 2018 – Title-chasing Warriors FC were unable to get off to a winning start in their 2018 Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) opener as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Geylang International at Bedok Stadium on Wednesday night.

Returning French forward Jonathan Behe put the Warriors in the driving seat late in the first half, but Geylang fought back in the second half with Ryan Syaffiq coming off the bench to net the equaliser in the 78th minute.

Despite Zulfadli Zainal Abidin’s late dismissal, the Eagles held on for a valuable point under new Japanese coach Hirotaka Usui.

The first half was very much a scrappy one, with both sides understandably still trying to find their rhythm this early into the season.

Geylang could have gotten off to the best possible start in their first game back at Bedok since last April, but Singapore international Shawal Anuar lashed over from just outside the area on 11 minutes.

Warriors gradually settled in and got close on a couple of occasions, before breaking the deadlock eight minutes before half-time.

A Fadhil Noh corner caused mayhem in the Geylang six-yard box as Behe reacted quickest to thump home amidst a sea of bodies to put the away side a goal up.

The nine-time champions continued to dominate proceedings after the break, with Behe going on a good solo run before seeing his left-footed shot parried wide by Geylang goalkeeper Basil Chan on 46 minutes.

The 29-year-old should have netted his second on 67 minutes, but somehow fired wide of the left-hand post from eight yards out – leaving Warriors coach Mirko Grabovac in sheer disbelief as he lashed out at a water bottle on the touchline in disgust.

Surviving the let-off, Geylang grew in confidence in the dying stages and duly restored parity with just 12 minutes left on the clock.

Shawal did well to win the ball off Warriors captain Kento Fukuda initially, paving the way for left-back Zulfadli to whip a cross into the area. The ball found Ryan, who took a touch to steady himself before firing a sizzling left-footed grounder beyond Warriors custodian Fashah Iskandar.

The Eagles had to play out the final four minutes of regulation time with 10 men after Zulfadli was sent off for an off-the-ball incident, but almost grabbed a shock winner late on.

Japanese playmaker Fumiya Kogure’s free kick looked destined for the bottom right corner, until Fashah got down well to repel the effort as the final whistle soon sounded.

What they said:
Geylang Head Coach Hirotaka Usui: “For the first game, it’s important that we do not lose points so (getting) one is okay. For me, the mentality and fitness is very important. I see some of my national and national Under-23 players (being) very nervous in the beginning. Maybe five touches, four mistakes – how to play football like that?

“Second half, we played better and I’m happy that an Under-23 player scored the goal. He has been doing extra shooting practice in training. My target at Geylang is about development so I’m happy that SPL has introduced the rule for three Under-23 players to start every game.”

Warrior Head Coach Mirko Grabovac: “It’s good to be back here after a long time… I was very happy with the first half, but Geylang played very good in the second half.

“We had some chances and if we scored the second goal, we would have won the game. Jonathan looked disappointed with his miss and I hope he does better in the next game.”

Geylang: Basil Chan (GK), Anders Aplin (C), Jufri Taha, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Darren Teh, Umar Akhbar Ramle (Fairoz Hasan 55’), Yuki Ichikawa, Danish Irfan (Ryan Syaffiq 63’), Fumiya Kogure, Azhar Sairudin (Noor Ariff 78’), Shawal Anuar.
Unused subs: Zainol Gulam (GK), Yeo Hai Ngee, Sadiq Abdul Rahim, Ryson Yap.

Warriors: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Emmeric Ong, Kento Fukuda (C), Hafiz Sulaiman, Delwinder Singh, Ismadi Mukhtar, Poh Yi Feng, Ho Wai Loon, Fadhil Noh (Shamil Sharif 72’), Jonathan Behe, Nur Luqman ( Suria Prakash 46’).
Unused subs: Mukundan Maran (GK), Fazli Shafie, Daniel Shafiq, Md Aqil Yusof, Naasiruddin Wahab.

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