Balestier edge Geylang to notch second straight SPL victory

Balestier Khalsa made it two wins in a week after battling to a 1-0 victory against Geylang International at the Bedok Stadium on Saturday.

Geylang International FC continued their winless start to the 2018 Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) season after a narrow 1-0 loss to Balestier Khalsa FC at Bedok Stadium on Saturday evening.

Fadli Kamis’ first-half goal was enough to help Balestier notch their second win in four days. The Tigers dispatched Young Lions 3-1 on Wednesday night.

The outcome could have been all so different had Geylang opened the scoring after just 13 minutes.

Shawal Anuar was put through on goal by Ryan Syaffiq’s through ball, but got thwarted by the onrushing Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam.

They were left to rue that miss as Balestier broke the deadlock six minutes later.

A long throw from Huzaifah Aziz caught the Eagles defence in sixes and sevens, before Fadli reacted quickest in the box to thump home a sizzling half-volley into the bottom left corner.

The visitors dominated the first half and went close to finding a second goal, but Vedran Mesec’s header from Hazzuwan Halim’s corner was tipped over by Geylang custodian Zainol Gulam.

Just like their past two games, Geylang emerged for the second half with much more vigour and could have levelled matters on 50 minutes.

Captain Anders Aplin – who was playing as a forward instead of his usual centre-back role – got his head to Fumiya Kogure’s right-wing cross but the effort was tipped away by Zaiful.

The Eagles had Zainol to thank for keeping them in the game though, with the 26-year-old making a number of key saves including palming away a goal-bound Keegan Linderboom free-kick.

Geylang threw the kitchen sink late on by bringing on young forward Cameron Ayrton Bell and shifted centre-back Yuki Ichikawa upfront, but there was no way past a stout Balestier backline led by Shaqi Sulaiman.

There was one last chance for them to salvage something deep into injury time, but Ichikawa was unable to keep his header on target from Kogure’s corner.

The final whistle soon sounded as Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic punched the air in delight after a second straight win.

The result lifted the Tigers to third in the SPL table with six points from four games, while Geylang remain second-from-bottom with one from three.

Geylang will now travel to Bander Seri Begawan to face Brunei DPMM next Tuesday, while Balestier will face Hougang United at Hougang Stadium next Sunday.

What they said:

Geylang International FC Head Coach Hirotaka Usui: “Before the game, I already knew the opponent’s weapon – set-pieces and long balls – and we set up for it. But we still lost the goal to a set-piece.

“The young players were nervous after making a mistake. But as a coach I need to give them opportunities to play so that they can grow. I put Anders as striker because we need a powerful player upfront. I know he played as striker before and he understands his role but he can play better.

“Our next three games are very difficult but we need to get (our first) three points.”

Balestier Khalsa FC Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “When you win by a goal and do not concede, it’s a very sweet victory. My heart was beating so hard because Geylang started pumping long balls towards the end and we had to work very hard to keep a clean sheet.

“Playing four games in 11 days was really tough so I’m happy to have six points in four matches. We still have a lot of things to improve.

“Shaqi’s an unbelievable player and he’s our star so far. He never misses training, is always putting in extra effort to improve himself and has no fear on the pitch. He definitely have a bright future ahead.”

Geylang International FC: Zainol Gulam (GK), Darren Teh, Jufri Taha, Yuki Ichikawa, Danish Irfan (Yeo Hai Ngee 46’), Noor Ariff (Cameron Ayrton Bell 66’), Azhar Sairudin, Ryan Syaffiq (Sadiq Abdul Rahim 81’), Fumiya Kogure, Shawal Anuar, Anders Aplin (C)

Balestier Khalsa FC: Zaiful Nizam (GK), Fadli Kamis, Shaqi Sulaiman, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Sharin Majid (Ahmad Syahir 56’), Hazzuwan Halim (Fariz Faizal 90’), Raihan Rahman, Huzaifah Aziz, Afiq Salman Tan (Noor Akid Nordin 52’), Vedran Mesec, Keegan Linderboom

 

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