News • July 15, 2016

The New Paper League Cup 2016: Hartmann On Fire As Eagles Rescue Late Draw


Written by: Shawn Lim

Mark Hartmann continued his rich vein of form as he scored a brace to help Geylang International come from behind and hold Balestier Khalsa to a 2-2 draw in The New Paper League Cup Group B match on Thursday night.

Balestier were on their way to victory after Niko Tokic and Fadhil Noh had given them a 2-0 lead before the break at Toa Payoh Stadium, but Hartmann stepped up in the second-half to reduce the deficit for the Eagles, before producing a stunning strike from distance to level the scores.

The English-born Filipino striker has now found the net three times in two consecutive starts for Geylang, an admirable feat considering the fact that he has yet to return to full fitness after a long lay-off from injury.

The Tigers started on the front foot when they opened the scoring inside nine minutes of the game after Tokic displayed his superior aerial prowess, rising the highest to head home Fazli Ayob’s corner-kick.

Geylang struggled to create a meaningful opportunity to equalise in the final third as Balestier’s defence held firm, but almost drew level against the run of play on 21 minutes, when Tigers custodian Naqiuddin Nodin had to push away Hartmann’s fierce drive from the edge of the box.

The Eagles conceded from another set-piece two minutes later when Fazli’s free-kick found Fadhil at the near post and the striker finished from close-range to give the Tigers a two-goal lead.

Hartmann came close again in the 36th minute when he latched onto a throw-in by Nor Azli and went through on goal, but Naqiuddin came rushing off his line and forced the Filipino to scoop the ball onto the roof the net.

With the Eagles looking to start quickly after the break, coach Hasrin Jailani made a tactical switch by throwing on Shawal Anuar for Ifwat Ismail and the change seemed to spark Geylang to life.

Within minutes of his introduction, Shawal almost forced Hanafi into putting the ball into his own net after the former’s dangerous cross into the box was narrowly kicked into touch by the centre-back.

The resulting corner-kick delivered by Shawal saw the winger finding Shariff Samat, but the defender’s bullet header at goal crashed off the top of the crossbar.

The danger from the Eagles grew with every foray into the Tigers’ half after that and they finally pulled a goal back in the 55th minute when Hartmann was left free at the far post to meet Nor Azli Yusoff’s cross from deep and made no mistake from six-yards out.

Geylang had a glorious opportunity to pull level on 67 minutes when debutant Roberto Chamarasa teed up an unmarked Hartmann on the edge of the box, but the striker fired a shot that flashed across the face of the goal.

Another presentable opportunity for the Eagles to level the score arrived in the 74th minute when a long ball from the back sent Shawal through on goal, but Naqiuddin stood firm to deny the former at close-range.

Isa Halim was then guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance three minutes from time when Hartmann nodded on Shawal’s cross into his path, as the Geylang captain slashed his shot wide of the mark from six-yards out.

The Eagles’ comeback was completed just as the match was about to enter injury time when Shawal laid the ball off to Hartmann, who proceeded to let fly a shot from 35 yards out that found the top corner of the net.

Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic: “It was good that we went two goals up in the first-half, but early in the second-half, they placed a lot of pressure on us and we conceded a goal.

“We were not good enough in the second-half because we were unable to penetrate them or find space behind them when they were pushing up, so it was sad to concede in the last minute.”

Geylang International coach Hasrin Jailani: “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.

“Hartmann gives us something different now because during the first-half of the season, we could create but we couldn’t finish the chances. I thought Umar and Ifwat did well as well, especially Umar, who is quick on the turn and very fast.”

Balestier Khalsa: Naqiuddin Nodin (GK), Fadli Kamis, Nurullah Hussein, Sheikh Abdul Hadi (C), Ho Wai Loon (Ahmad Syahir 76′), Gary Loo, Tan Danial Farhan, Fazli Ayob (Syafiq Zainal 80′), Jamil Ali, Fadhil Noh (Smajovic Sadin 76′), Niko Tokic

Geylang International: Hairul Syirhan, 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