Eagles Defeat Spirited Young Lions To Go Fifth
Written by: Ryan Low
Geylang International returned to fifth in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League table after edging Garena Young Lions 2-1 at Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday night.
The Eagles had to wait until after the hour mark to find the breakthrough via an Amy Recha penalty before Costa Rican forward Victor Coto doubled the advantage.
Amirul Adli pulled one back late on for the Young Lions but it proved to be a mere consolation in the end.
Off a morale-boosting 1-1 draw in the Eastern Derby against Tampines Rovers, Geylang started the better of the two sides and dominated the first 20 minutes without putting away their chances.
Shawal Anuar and Gabriel Quak were both sent racing on goal via Ricardo Sendra’s through balls, but contrived to fire off-target.
Shawal then found space to drive in a good ball from the right, but Shahfiq Ghani’s resulting header was too weak to trouble Young Lions custodian Zharfan Rohaizad.
Young Lions started to find their feet midway through and could have broken the deadlock on 28 minutes when Taufik Suparno went on the clear, but the no. 9 was denied by a superb block by Geylang centre-back Anders Aplin.
Geylang then almost scored on the stroke of half time when Quak teed up Shawal with a good chested pass, but the latter volleyed into the side netting.
Young Lions returned for the second half with much vigour as Rusyaidi Salime was unlucky to see his 30-yard free kick crash off the crossbar on 50 minutes.
Geylang then went close seven minutes later, with Shawal Anuar’s volley from three yards out coming off the left-hand post.
Ricardo Sendra’s free kick nearly crept in moments after, but Zharfan pulled off a stunning save to turn it around for a corner.
Geylang caretaker coach Noor Ali brought on Stanely Ng to replace Shahfiq on the hour mark, but the former lasted just five minutes on the pitch before being replaced by Amy due to injury.
Amy duly made an immediate impact after coming on, slotting home from 12 yards out with his first touch of the game to put the Eagles 1-0 up on 67 minutes, after Quak was brought down inside the area.
The Eagles would double their advantage nine minutes later, with Coto expertly volleying home from close range from Quak’s teasing inswinging cross from the right.
Credit to the Young Lions, they fought back well and halved the deficit in the 82nd minute with Amirul’s header creeping home after his initial attempt off Hami Syahin’s corner was blocked by Faritz Hameed.
Richard Tardy’s men almost levelled it up five minutes later, but substitute Ikhsan Fandi could only volley over after Amirul had knocked on Hami’s free kick.
Geylang would hold on for the crucial three points to push them back up to fifth spot.
Geylang International Caretaker Coach Noor Ali: “It’s a hard-fought win; it wasn’t easy playing against a young, aggressive and fast team, three days after playing Tampines. The first half wasn’t too good, but we came out with better link-up play and moved the ball faster in the second half.
“It’s good to see individuals like Gabriel stepping up, it’s been a long time since I saw him play like this. We also had a Prime League boy Ifwat (Ismail) out there who caused problems in the last 10 minutes. These are players who will get chances in the League Cup.
“The only thing now is to work on our finishing because quality teams will punish us if we don’t finish off our chances.”
Garena Young Lions Head Coach Richard Tardy: “I’m really proud of the performance. We had an average age of 20.3 but we challenged well against an experienced team. Although we conceded two, we continued to fight and could have equalised.
“I feel a draw should have been a fairer result tonight. People say playing against us is easy, but we did well against Warriors FC, Brunei DPMM with 0-0 draws and only lost to Tampines in the last minute. We must continue to focus and play well in our next matches.
Geylang International: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Faritz Hameed, Yuki Ichikawa, Anders Aplin, Safirul Sulaiman, Gabriel Quak, Ricardo Sendra, Isa Halim (C), Victor Coto, Shahfiq Ghani (Stanely Ng 60’, Amy Recha 65’), Shawal Anuar (Ifwat Ismail 83’) Garena Young Lions:
Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Rusyaidi Salime (Ryan Syaffiq 84’), Illyas Lee, Amirul Adli, Shahrin Saberin (C), Faizal Roslan, Dhukhilan Jeevamani (Syahrul Sazali 80’), Hami Syahin, Muhelmy Suhaimi, Taufik Suparno, Jordan Chan (Ikhsan Fandi 65’)