News & Features


Woodlands keep up winning run to go second

February 29, 2012


Who would have thought Woodlands Wellington would be one of two teams with a 100% record after two rounds of the 2012 S.League season?

Giants like SAFFC, Home United and Tampines Rovers have all dropped points, and while it may be no surprise Albirex Niigata (Singapore) are the other team with an unblemished record, the Rams, who had to wait more than one third of last season for their first win, are certainly redefining expectations.

Their latest victory, a comprehensive 3-1 one at Woodlands Stadium on Sunday evening, came against Geylang United, following their 1-0 win against the Courts Young Lions last weekend.

Hussein Akil and Goh Swee Swee put the hosts up with second-half goals before Danial Razali pulled one back for the visitors on 83 minutes. Five minutes later, however, Moon Soon Ho calmed nerves as he slotted home Daniel Hammond’s long punt to score his second goal of the season.

That was enough to ensure his team six points out of a possible six.

“The players really wanted this win,” beamed Woodlands assistant coach Clement Teo.

“We didn’t play well in the first half, like in the match against the Courts Young Lions, but we took our chances very well and believed throughout the match that we could do it. Not only did we do well in set-pieces, but we implemented what we did in training.

“It is still too early to tell how the season would pan out, but sometimes we do get our breaks, just like we did in the second half.”

If Geylang’s new boys felt nervous playing their first match of the season, it certainly did not show as they were immediately settled and took the game to the hosts.

The first five minutes were a display of the easterners’ attacking play, with Michael King commanding the midfield and organising plays for his side. Together with Jozef Kaplan, they troubled the Woodlands defence in the early going.

Still, it was 21-year-old Akil who crafted the first chance of the match for Woodlands, as his shot from inside the box went just wide of the post.

On 17 minutes, Geylang had their chance to score when King danced his way into the area before his attempt was blocked. From the resulting corner, Ang Zhi Wei found his diving header cleared off the line.

It would be fair to state that the Eagles looked more comfortable on the ball and more dangerous in attack, especially with Ang doing well on the right, but the Rams had their chances too.

A couple of free kicks from Duncan David Elias gave Yazid Yasin something to do, while Akil was a pain with his shots from distance.

In fact, it was the Australian playmaker that had the best opportunity to break the deadlock towards the end of the first half.

Moon chased down a loose ball and played it on to Akil, who took a couple of touches before forcing Yazid into a fine save as the latter dived down to his right.

The start of the second half brought a good chance for Geylang as Rizawan Abdullah’s knockdown from a cross resulted in King volleying just over with the goal gaping.

At the other end, a volley from Akil was dragged just wide, before Yazid easily held on to another tame effort.

Woodlands were certainly asking questions of Geylang’s defence, and they were eventually rewarded when they scored the opening goal on 59 minutes. A corner from Elias eluded everyone in the area before finding its way to Akil, who calmly controlled the ball and put it beyond Yazid.

It was just reward for the lad after he had many opportunities to open his account for the Rams throughout the match.

11 minutes later, the home side doubled their lead. This time, it was a beauty from Goh, who terrorised the Geylang backline in the second half.

The winger’s cross-shot from to the left went over the despairing reach of Yazid before dropping into the far corner, sending the small crowd in the stands into rapture.

Geylang failed to really conjure up a response to the quick one-two punch by the Rams, but it was out of nowhere that they pulled a goal back seven minutes from time.

A cross from the left was met by Kaplan in the middle, whose shot was saved by Ahmadulhaq Che Omar only for the rebound to be tapped home by substitute Danial.

The goal offered a glimmer of hope for Geylang, and Rhema Obed’s attempt at the far post following a free kick found the side netting instead of the part that really mattered.

However, the sucker punch came with two minutes left when Hammond’s long clearance found Moon unmarked up the field. The Korean controlled it calmly before planting it firmly for the hosts’ third goal.

That was enough to seal the game and make sure the feel-good factor stays at Woodlands.

Eagles coach Mike Wong was clearly unhappy about the way his side went down to last year’s cellar dwellers, especially since they had dominated the first half.

“Obviously we didn’t want to come away empty-handed in our first game,” said Wong.

“We had enough opportunities to take the lead in the first half, but some players lacked the leadership that I expected from them. I’m happy with some performances, but some players need to know that they have to perform their duties better. We definitely can all do better.

“It was really a lapse of concentration in the last 25 minutes that lost us the game. Both teams had their fair share of possession but they were just able to finish better.

“The good news is that there is another game to look forward to and bounce back.”

Geylang will attempt to get their season going when they visit Hougang Stadium on 3 March, while Woodlands will be up against fellow full-points side Albirex two days earlier.

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