Stags Claim Bragging Rights In Eastern Derby
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Tampines Rovers came from behind to earn a last-gasp 3-2 victory over Geylang International in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League at Our Tampines Hub on Sunday night.
With the defeat, Geylang missed the chance to leapfrog Warriors FC into fourth as they still trail on goal difference while Tampines remain in second with 44 points from 20 matches.
It was Tampines who started brightly with Ivan Dzoni having two decent openings shortly after kickoff but they were unable to trouble Geylang custodian Syazwan Buhari.
Instead, it was the Eagles who got their noses in front on eight minutes when Shawal steered home Ricardo Sendra’s low cross for his seventh goal of the season.
Tampines refused to let their heads drop after falling behind and could have restored parity in the 16th minute but skipper Fahrudin Mustafic saw his bullet header kept out by a flying Syazwan.
Shawal and Nor Azli Yusoff came close to doubling the lead for the designated home side in the space of two minutes but Tampines would level matters eight minutes before half time.
There was no denying Mustafic this time as he glanced home Shahdan Sulaiman’s freekick from the left to make it 1-1.
The Stags ended the half strongly with both Hafiz Sujad and Ismadi Mukhtar firing straight at Syazwan in the 38th and 40th minute respectively.
Geylang however restored their one-goal advantage merely two minutes after the restart when Ichikawa popped up at the far post to nod home Darren Teh’s inswinging corner.
Despite going down again, Tampines continued to threaten and could have pulled level on 51 minutes but Ryutaro Megumi’s looping header was cleared off the line by Teh.
In a bid to inject firepower upfront, Tampines head coach Jurgen Raab reacted by bringing on Singapore internationals Khairul Amri and Fazrul Nawaz.
It was a move that paid off handsomely as Fazrul got Tampines back on level terms just two minutes after coming on.
Sneaking in behind the Geylang defence to meet substitute Fazli Ayob’s left-wing cross, the 32-year-old then sent a header past a hapless Syazwan from close range to equalise.
Hafiz could have put Tampines in front for the first time in the match with 15 minutes remaining but his fierce left-footed drive was parried by Syazwan.
The men in blue were then reduced to ten men after full-back Ismadi Mukhtar was shown a straight red on 87 minutes.
However, that mattered little as Fazli applied the finish to a well-worked attacking move to secure victory for the Stags.
Geylang International Head Coach Noor Ali: “I was proud of the performance of the boys today, especially when we came into this match with only 11 S.League players available to me. Hence, I was glad we managed to match Tampines this way until the 90th minute and I cannot fault any of my players. In fact, Yuki (Ichikawa) and Shahfiq (Ghani) were injured but I had no choice but to play them.
“We came here with a game plan but Tampines had too much quality in their team. The winning goal came after Ichikawa came off and it was also due to fatigue. We still have four more games to go and a fourth-placed finish is definitely still within reach for us.”
Tampines Rovers Head Coach Jurgen Raab: “It was a deserved win today and I’m very happy the players were rewarded with the three points. With one player down, we still managed to fight on and that showed the character of the players.
“The opening 30 minutes was difficult for us but we managed to come back and win the game. It was tough for our national team players who returned to us a few days before the match but hats off to them for them and the team for such a performance.
“It was an important win today and we have Home United next, we shall see what happens then.”
Geylang International: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Faritz Hameed, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Yuki Ichikawa (Ahmad Zaki 80’), Darren Teh, Safirul Sulaiman, Isa Halim (C), Nor Azli Yusoff (Shahfiq Ghani 73’), Ricardo Sendra, Gabriel Quak (Amy Recha 65’), Shawal Anuar
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Madhu Mohana, Fahrudin Mustafic (C) (Khairul Amri 63’), Daniel Bennett, Ismadi Mukhtar (Fazli Ayob 66’), Son Yong Chan, Shahdan Sulaiman, Irwan Shah, Ryutaro Megumi, Ivan Dzoni (Fazrul Nawaz 70’), Hafiz Sujad