Protectors Overcome Eagles To Stay In Title Contention
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Home United kept their slim Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League title hopes alive after beating Geylang International 3-1 at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.
After a goalless first half, strikes apiece from Adam Swandi, Stipe Plazibat and Shamil Sharif rendered Shawal Anuar’s goal inconsequential as the Protectors condemned Geylang to their first defeat in four outings.
It was a cagey affair in the first half with chances few and far between as both goalkeepers were largely untested.
Geylang skipper Isa Halim fired over from a snapshot in the third minute before Faris Ramli similarly curled well over with a left-footed shot on 19 minutes.
The second half was however a stark contrast of the first as the deadlock was finally broken ten minutes after the restart.
After Faris’ effort was blocked, Adam then lashed home a first-time volley which beat Syazwan Buhari and nestled into the bottom right corner for his second goal in as many games.
Home could have doubled their lead six minutes after the opener but midfielder Hariss Harun saw his dipping effort tipped over the bar by Geylang custodian Syazwan.
The Eagles then came close to restoring parity in the 75th minute but Victor Coto’s looping header was kept out by a full-stretch Hassan Sunny who clawed it away to safety.
Over at the other end two minutes later, Plazibat spurned a glorious opportunity as the Croatian forward somehow dragged a shot wide with only Syazwan to beat.
Coto then nodded straight at Hassan with eight minutes remaining and Geylang were made to rue that miss as Plazibat made it two in favour of the visitors in the 86th minute.
After robbing Anders Aplin of possession on the left, Faris then squared the ball for an unmarked Plazibat to slot past Syazwan from unmissable range for his 20th league goal.
Shawal would reduce the deficit for Geylang three minutes later as he controlled a left-wing cross before calmly rolling the ball past a hapless Hassan from six yards out to give his side a glimmer of hope.
But it was game, set and match as Shamil sealed victory for the Bishan-based side in stoppage time.
After the Eagles defence failed to deal with Plazibat’s low cross, the half time substitute slammed home the rebound after his initial effort was kept out by the legs of Syazwan.
With the result, third-placed Home trail leaders Albirex Niigata (S) by 13 points albeit with three games in hand while Geylang are tied with Warriors FC in fifth with 30 points from 19 matches.
Geylang International Head Coach Noor Ali: “I’m not disappointed with the result because we knew where both teams stands. They have two national players (Hariss Harun and Izzdin Shafiq) controlling the midfield, a top scorer in Stipe Plazibat and Faris Ramli who is the best local league player.
“The only disappointment from today was our decision-making in the final third. We could have gotten something from this game if we had done better in that aspect.
“It’s been a good September because I didn’t expect to collect nine points from four games. But we just have to move on and I look forward to our next game against Tampines (on 13 October) and I hope to finish as high as possible in the S.League.”
Home United Head Coach Aidil Sharin: “I’m happy we created the chances and managed to score three goals against Geylang who haven’t lost in three games and also have three clean sheets.
“The first half was difficult as Geylang were very tight at the back but we changed things at half time and it’s good the boys did it at the end of the day.
“But we will take it one game at a time, focusing on what’s ahead of us and that’s very important. If we think about the title and don’t do well in the next game, it’s going to be disappointing.
"What we have to do now is to forget about the S.League and think about the upcoming Singapore Cup semis where we face Albirex again.”
Geylang International: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Faritz Hameed, Anders Aplin, Yuki Ichikawa, Darren Teh, Shawal Anuar, Isa Halim (C) (Asshukrie Wahid 76’), Ricardo Sendra, Gabriel Quak (Safirul Sulaiman 58’), Shahfiq Ghani (Amy Recha 58’), Victor Coto
Home United: Hassan Sunny (GK, C), Juma'at Jantan, Abdil Qaiyyim, Irfan Fandi, Sufianto Salleh, Amiruldin Asraf (Shamil Sharif 46’), Hariss Harun, Izzdin Shafiq (Aqhari Abdullah 81’), Adam Swandi (Haziq Azman 90’), Faris Ramli, Stipe Plazibat