Warriors Down Eagles To Keep Top Three Hopes Alive
Written by: Darren Ho
Warriors FC revived their top three hopes in the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League after consigning Geylang International to a 2-0 defeat at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night, courtesy of a brace from Shahril Ishak.
Fresh from the international break, Warriors head coach Razif Onn shuffled his pack with the likes of Ho Wai Loon, Fazli Jaffar, Fadhil Noh and Shaiful Esah all coming into his line-up since their 4-1 defeat to Cambodian side Boeung Ket FC in the 2017 RHB Singapore Cup in May.
Despite vowing to go on the attack against the Eagles, the nine-time S.League champions were handled multiple scares since the get-go.
Victor Coto proved to be a real menace for the visitors as he was involved in two great chances after only five minutes.
First, he swung in a delightful cross from the left to pick out Gabriel Quak at the back post whose header flew inches wide, before Coto got onto the end Shahfiq Ghani’s delivery into the box but could only fire straight at Warriors custodian Hyrulnizam Juma’at.
However, Geylang’s hard work in the opening stages were undone just after a quarter of an hour, as Shahril placed the Warriors two goals up in the space of four minutes.
The Singapore captain got the opener in the 16th minute when he thumped home a header off Shaiful Esah’s corner, before diving into the penalty box to meet Hafiz Nor’s knock down for a second headed goal four minutes later.
Clear-cut chances in the later part of the first-half were soon at a premium, with both sides not having enough conviction in their final touches to find the net.
Geylang were very much on the offense, but weary too at the back as Warriors relied on counter-attacking play when the Eastern giants poured numbers forward.
The restart saw both teams back in the hunt to search for an opening as Geylang sought a way back.
Coto was left frustrated for being flagged offside in a decision that could have changed the game against the run of play, while at the other end, Fadhil could not plant his header into the net under pressure from two defenders.
Quak released Coto with a teasing pass into the box for a one-on-one chance, but the winger could not get his shot past Hyrulnizam who came off his line to keep the ball to safety.
Substitute Shawal Anuar added some fresh impetus for Geylang but skied several chances on his own, including a volley with the outside of his boot when he had time and space for alternatives.
As the match progressed, Ricardo Sendra could have handed his side a lifeline in the final quarter of the match, but chose to squander his chance from six yards after teammate Faritz Hameed flighted a gorgeous ball from the wing.
On came Poh Yi Feng who added more stability for the Warriors in midfield, and Geylang continued to struggle at the front with Coto firing blanks on several occasions after being pressured by a resolute Warriors’ defence.
While they remained in fourth, the win took Warriors to 20 points in the standings, just one point off Tampines Rovers who face Balestier Khalsa on Saturday night.
Geylang International Head Coach Hasrin Jailani: “Usually, the (international) break is always a risk. It is not easy to play during the fasting month.
“In the first-half, we were second best where we had few chances and didn’t convert. Warriors took their chances and scored two goals and we tried from the second-half, but it wasn’t enough. I just have to stay positive as our next game is on Wednesday in the Singapore Cup (against Global Cebu FC).
“(Despite losing) 2-0, I think if we could get an early goal in the second-half, we could be still there, but the goal did not come. Putting the ball into the net is our priority. We did not score but conceded and that is our problem.”
Warriors FC Head Coach Razif Onn: “We had two good chances (in the first-half). The first one from a cross. The second was a good break when Fadhil Noh intercepted the ball, who passed to Hafiz Nor to cross the ball to Shahril Ishak to hit the ball. That was a quick and good counter attack.
“We did not give (Geylang) space to play. We pressed them immediately and we won many balls in midfield. We’ve not done that in our last few matches, and hopefully it happens in more matches to come.
“In the second half, it was a concern for us. We had to slow down the game. When Shawal came in, he was able to get the ball and that’s worrying. So our plan was to get the ball to Shahril, but it is always better to get the goal in the first-half.”
Geylang International: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Yuki Ichikawa, Faritz Hameed, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Isa Halim (C) (Anders Aplin 46’), Gabriel Quak (Nor Azli Yusoff 79’), Ricardo Sendra, Shahfiq Ghani (Shawal Anuar 64’), Safirul Sulaiman, Victor Coto, Amy Recha
Warriors FC: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Emmeric Ong, Baihakki Khaizan (Hafiz Osman 79’), Kento Fukuda, Ho Wai Loon, Syaqir Sulaiman (Poh Yi Feng 87’), Shaiful Esah (C), Hafiz Nor, Shahril Ishak, Fazli Jaffar, Fadhil Noh (Ridhuan Muhamad 64’)