Singapore Premier League • October 27, 2015
White Swans Return To Winning Ways
Written by: Shawn Lim
Albirex Niigata (S) kept alive their faint hopes of winning the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title after defeating Geylang International 2-0 at Jurong East Stadium on Monday night.
The victory for Albirex sees them remain in fourth place in the standings with 36 points and 10 points behind leader Brunei DPMM, while Geylang remained rooted to the bottom with their third defeat in a row.
After a first half devoid of clear-cut chances, the game burst into life late in the second half when an own goal by Syed Thaha gave the hosts the lead, before substitute Yusuke Mukai sealed the victory for the White Swans.
However, it was the visitors who had their first sight at goal just three minutes into the game when Jozef Kaplan drilled a low free-kick through the wall into Albirex custodian Yosuke Nozawa’s arms.
The woodwork then came to Geylang’s rescue in the sixth minute when an unmarked Fumiya Kogure’s ferocious effort from inside the 18-yard box came crashing off the frame of the goal.
Both teams subsequently spurned decent opportunities to break the deadlock as they struggled to gain a foothold of the game.
After Takahiro Saito failed to deal with a long ball in the 35th minute and sent Kaplan through on goal, the Eagles captain fired his shot straight at Nozawa.
Five minutes later, Geylang custodian Yazid Yasin’s agility was put to the test when he had to tip away Kogure’s tricky dipping shot at the far post.
The White Swans then wasted a glorious opportunity to go into the interval with the lead in first half stoppage time when Syed was robbed of possession by Kogure, who immediately sent a pin-point cross to Rion Taki.
However, the 23-year-old striker could only send a tame header into the arms of Yazid despite being unmarked in the box.
The hosts emerged after the restart determined to draw first blood and almost succeeded two minutes into the second period when Mukai shot straight at Yazid after pouncing onto a loose ball in the 18-yard box.
Another accurate cross from Kogure in the 59th minute found Taki again, but Yazid got down well at his far post to turn away the former Vissel Kobe player’s header.
The tricky Kogure then nicked the ball off Kento Fukuda in the 79th minute and went through on goal, but the woodwork denied him again with Yazid caught in no man’s land.
Albirex finally found the breakthrough in the 76th minute when a rampaging run from Itsuki Yamada ended with Syed heading the ball into his own net.
The Eagles barely had a chance to recover from the shock when the White Swans took the lead again four minutes later when Mukai powered home a bullet header from a Kogure’s corner.
In spite of their advantage, the Japanese side continued to press forward to increase their lead and should have scored though Kogure in a space of three minutes.
However, the midfielder saw his free-kick punched clear by Yazid before heading Matsuya’s cross wide despite being unmarked in the 18-yard box.
There was still time for Geylang to grab a consolation goal a minute before the final whistle, but Kaplan sent another low free-kick into the arms of Nozawa as the White Swans held on to victory.
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK) (C), Mikiya Yamada, Kento Fujihara, Takahiro Saito (Ryuki Matsuya 83’), Itsuki Yamada, Hikaru Mizuno, Fumiya Kogure (Hikaru Yanagawa 90’), Kento Nagasaki, Shun Inaba, Rion Taki, Shotaro Ihata (Yusuke Mukai 19’)
Geylang International: Yazid Yasin (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Kento Fukuda, Syed Thaha (Huzaifah Aziz 86’), Hafiz Osman, Nor Azli (Shawal Anuar 77’), Tatsuro Inui, Anaz Hadee (Zulkifli Suzliman 68’), Hafiz Nor, Jozef Kaplan (C), Bruno Castanheira