Sendra Salvages Late Point For Geylang
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Ricardo Sendra cancelled out Fazrul Nawaz’s opener as Tampines Rovers and Geylang International battled to a 1-1 draw in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League at Jurong West Stadium on Thursday night.
The result not only saw Tampines’ three-game winning run come to an end but they also missed the opportunity to go within a point of leaders Albirex Niigata (S).
With the draw, the Stags lie second with 28 points after 13 games played, three adrift of Albirex who take on Hougang United on Monday night while Geylang remained in fifth with 15 points in 12 games.
Both teams lined up with a five-man defence as Singapore internationals Hafiz Sujad and Fazrul made their first starts for Jurgen Raab's side this season.
Chances were at a premium in the opening exchanges with the first noteworthy one coming only after 19 minutes.
Hafiz was thwarted by Syazwan Buhari in a one-on-one situation before Fazrul drilled one straight at the latter moments later.
However, Geylang would slowly grow into the game and could have opened the scoring in the 24th minute but Amy Recha’s speculative effort flew narrowly over the bar.
The woodwork would then come to the rescue of Tampines twice in quick succession.
First, Shawal Anuar’s volley off Anders Aplin’s lobbed pass crashed off the bar in the 31st minute before Victor Coto’s effort from a well-worked Geylang move five minutes later similarly beat Haikal Hasnol but not the upright.
Tampines captain Fahrudin Mustafic came close for Tampines on the stroke of half-time after rising highest to meet Shahdan Sulaiman’s freekick but nodded just wide instead.
The second-half was a stark contrast of the first and the deadlock was finally broken nine minutes after the restart.
Racing onto an Ismadi Mukhtar through pass, Fazrul fired a shot that was parried by Syazwan but he was quickest to the loose ball to chip the ball over the Geylang custodian to break his goalscoring duck for 2017.
Tampines continued to dominate thereafter with some enterprising attacking play but failed to find a way past a stout Geylang defence led by Yuki Ichikawa and Aplin.
In search of the elusive equaliser, the visitors pushed forward in numbers in the closing stages with substitute Gabriel Quak firing straight at Haikal with 15 minutes remaining.
But Geylang were duly rewarded with the leveller five minutes from time when Sendra nodded home off Shahfiq Ghani’s corner as they rescued a point.
Aplin could have stolen a late winner at the death but headed wide at the far post off Quak’s cross despite unmarked as both teams earned a share of the spoils.
Tampines Rovers Head Coach Jurgen Raab: “I was satisfied with performance of the team today but not so pleased with how we conceded the equaliser. We must accept that the opponents were very strong but it was a deserved result and a good match of football.
“I’m happy for Fazrul who scored today after a lengthy injury layoff. That’s important for the players’ confidence because they will feel they have achieved personal success. He and Hafiz (Sujad) gives us options to the team which is nice.”
Geylang International Caretaker Coach Noor Ali: “I thought we did well today, in terms of our performance and I was confident of coming here to get the three points.
“I wouldn’t say I was happy but I am not disappointed either. We had two good chances and it would have been a different game had we taken them. In fact, we could have gotten the winner in the last minute but it was not to be.
“My target now is to try push the team higher up the table, as we are not in a position to fight for the championship anymore.”
Tampines Rovers: Haikal Hasnol (GK), Ismadi Mukhtar (Madhu Mohana 69’), Jufri Taha, Daniel Bennett, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Shakir Hamzah, Imran Sahib (Jamil Ali 61’), Son Yong Chan, Shahdan Sulaiman, Hafiz Sujad, Fazrul Nawaz (Diego Silvas 66’)
Geylang International: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Faritz Hameed, Anders Aplin, Yuki Ichikawa, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Ricardo Sendra, Safirul Sulaiman, Isa Halim (C) (Stanely Ng 81’), Shawal Anuar (Gabriel Quak 69’), Amy Recha (Shahfiq Ghani 58’), Victor Coto