Fazrul Nawaz strikes late to give Tampines victory over Geylang

Late drama at Bedok Stadium as Fazrul Nawaz sealed a 2-1 victory over Geylang International in the Singapore Premier League on Sunday night.

Tampines Rovers made it 10 Singapore Premier League (SPL) victories in a row against Eastern Derby rivals Geylang International with a 2-1 win on Sunday at the Bedok Stadium, in a game which saw all the goals come in the last five minutes of the match.

Fazrul Nawaz’s injury-time winner clinched the points for the Stags, after Fairoz Hasan had cancelled out Ryutaro Megumi’s opener in a game dominated largely by the visitors.

The result saw Tampines jump all the way up to second in the table with 13 points.

The Stags were in control largely from start to end and could have had a more comfortable win had they been more clinical in front of goal.

Tampines could have broken the deadlock just seven minutes into the game when Fazrul Nawaz flicked on Madhu Mohana’s long throw towards Megumi, but the Japanese forward hit the cross bar with his effort.

Zulfadhmi Suzliman then drew a decent save from Geylang goalkeeper Zainol Gulam two minutes later, before another Madhu long throw resulted in a Megumi volley that flashed just wide of the goal.

Yasir Hanapi then missed a great opportunity to score, as he failed to connect after Zainol pushed a Madhu cross towards him. Fazrul then missed a simple header after Madhu set him up, while Afiq volleyed wide from a Yasir corner.

Tampines almost paid for their wastefulness in front of goal just two minutes before half-time, when Shawal Anuar caught the Tampines backline sleeping and latched onto a long ball to go through on goal. Keeper Syazwan Buhari bailed his side out however, coming off his line quickly to get a vital touch just as Shawal tried to nick the ball past him, which denied Geylang a clear chance at goal.

Geylang began the second half in positive fashion and perhaps should have gone ahead after Noor Ariff got in behind the Tampines defence and squared the ball for the open Fumiya Kogure. But the playmaker somehow mishit the ball from 12 yards out, and the chance went begging.

A break from Geylang in the 69th minute saw Shawal and Fuad Ramli combining for a two-on-one situation, but the latter’s cross asked too much of Shawal, who could not keep his header down to trouble Syazwan.

A minute later, it was Ryan Shaffiq who had to clear the ball off the line at the other end, after another Yasir corner saw Afiq with a free header at goal.

Zainol then did well to deny Jordan Webb in the 79th minute, after the Canadian peeled off Darren Teh to get onto the end of Amirul’s pass before turning to fire a low shot.

There was nothing the Geylang keeper could have done to stop Megumi from scoring six minutes later though.

Tampines launched a quick counter after Yuki Ichikawa lost the ball carelessly in the middle of the park and worked the ball towards Zulfadhmi. The youngster smartly found Megumi lying in wait at the left side of the box, and the Japanese fired a powerful shot into the top corner for his second league goal of the season.

The pair combined again four minutes later, but this time Zainol got a hand to prevent Megumi’s effort from going in. But the lead was shortlived, as Geylang hit them back minutes later.

A well-worked move from the Eagles saw Fairoz Hasan with the ball at the edge of the box, and he picked out the bottom corner with a sweet strike.

Geylang could have scored another through Shawal, who blasted over from close range, before they were hit with a sucker punch after Fazrul scored a poacher’s goal in injury time to seal the game.

Tampines will next play the Young Lions on 30 May at the Jalan Besar Stadium, while Geylang will go to Toa Payoh Stadium to take on Balestier Khalsa on 2 June.

Geylang head coach Hirotaka Usui: “Today was one of the best games we’ve had. We were very hardworking, there was great teamwork displayed. We did well to close down the Tampines players as well. But of course, we lost three points, and one point, but we gained a lot from this game.”

“I cannot blame Yuki for this defeat. Many times, he save us from going a goal down. I cannot speak about one mistake, I cannot criticise him. He had a big performance. I also cannot blame Shawal (for missing the chance at the end). We lost the ball too much, a lot of times Shawal need to run more to defend. So when we bring the ball into the box, he’s a bit tired.”

Tampines striker Fazrul Nawaz: “It was an instinct from me (to run and get onto the ball to score). I have to expect the unexpected as a striker. Credit to Geylang, for giving us a tough game. They are improving, they are getting better. But sorry to Geylang for scoring the winner – they were my first club and this is where my career started.

“The three points are massive. Last game against Albirex we should have gotten points … Overall, we have three games in hand. The pressure is definitely on us to win the games, then hopefully we can get closer to them.”

Geylang International: Zainol Gulam (GK), Jufri Taha, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Darren Teh, Umar Akhbar Ramle, Ryan Syaffiq, Fuad Ramli (Azhar Sairudin 87′), Fumiya Kogure, Ryson Yap (Sadiq Abdul Rahim 74′), Muhammad Noor Ariff (Fairoz Hasan 77′), Yuki Ichikawa (C)

Tampines Rovers: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Madhu Mohana (Irwan Shah 81′), Afiq Yunos, Amirul Adli, Zulfadhmi Suzliman, Ryutaro Megumi, Fazrul Nawaz, Jordan Webb, Shameer Aziq (Shah Shahiran 90′), Daniel Bennett (C), Yasir Hanapi