Geylang International seal back-to-back wins: SPL 2021 [Round 13]

Albirex in comeback win over Hougang, Young Lions triumph in bottom of table clash, Eagles cement back-to-back wins

Image credit: Singapore Premier League

It was goals galore this weekend in round 13 of the AIA Singapore Premier League. Champions Albirex Niigata are still undefeated after coming back from a goal down to claim all three points against Hougang United, who are witnessing their good work in the first half of the season quickly undone with two consecutive defeats.

In the battle of the cellar dwellars at Toa Payoh Stadium, Young Lions emerged victorious against Balestier Khalsa in a five-goal thriller that saw them claim their first league win of the 2021 AIA Singapore Premier League season, while Geylang International continued their imperious second half of the season form with yet another 3 points, this time against Tanjong Pagar United.

Image credit: Singapore Premier League


There was plenty to play for coming into this game, with Hougang United looking to bounce back after their heavy defeat last week against Tanjong Pagar United, while Albirex Niigata were looking to return to winning ways after being held by Lion City Sailors.

Both teams were seeking their first win of the second half of the SPL season, but it was Hougang United who drew first blood on 29 minutes when Kishon Philip pounced on the edge of the box from a cut back by overlapping teammate Nazrul Ahmad Nazari to beat Takahiro Koga at his near post and put his side in front.

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Both sides had threatened with good chances throughout the first half up to that point, and it was from a rare goalkeeping error by Koga that Hougang profited. The Champions would not be denied for long however, as they made their pressure count just five minutes into the second period, as Kuraba Kondo cleverly slid in to dink the ball over an onrushing Izwan Mahbud to level the scores.

The goal of the match was still to come, and it duly arrived when Takahiro Tezuka sent a delightful lob from just inside the box over a stranded Izwan Mahbud into goal, clipping the underside of the bar as it went in to seal all three points for the White Swans.

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With 5 points separating the two bottom sides in the table, the Young Lions knew that this was a match they had to win in order to stay within reach of the the Balestier Tigers.

They were gifted with the perfect opportunity just 15 minutes into the match, when a clumsy tackle by Balestier defender Amer Hakeem on Ilhan Fandi gifted them a penalty kick. Hami Syahin stepped up to convert from the spot but only just, with Balestier Khalsa goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam diving the right way to get a touch of the ball on its way into the bottom corner.

18 minutes later, the Young Lions doubled their lead when Zaiful Nizam spilled a routine save from a free kick, before parrying Ryhan Stewart's follow up shot across goal into the path of an onrushing Daniel Goh who made it two. The Young Lions continued to threaten with great chances created by the 16-year old Khairin Nadim and Ilhan Fandi.

The Tigers finally reduced the arrears a minute into the second half when Kristijan Krajcek's left foot screamer could only be tipped onto the post by Ridhwan Fikri, and it was left to Hazzuwan Halim to nod the ball into a gaping net. Hazzuwan almost got his second of the match 15 minutes later when Zuzul's good work down the right set him up up, but he duly sent his shot wide.

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The Young Lions's pressure on the Balestier goal continued to mount, with Joel Chew and Ilhan Fandi both having a go at Zaiful Nizam's goal who redeemed himself from his first half errors with a couple of great saves to keep his side in the game.

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The Young Lions put the game beyond the Tigers on 85 minutes when Harhys Stewart side footed Hami Syahin's low cross into goal from the edge of the six yard box. It was not the end of the goals or the action however, as Sime Zuzul raced clear of the Young Lions defence just minutes later to cooly finish past Ridhwan Fikri for a grandstand finish, but it proved to be too little too late and scant consolation for Balestier.

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Tanjong Pagar defender Shakir Hamzah endured a torrid debut for his new club, scoring an own goal and seeing his side concede 3 goals inside the opening 37 minutes.

Both the Jaguars and Eagles came into this fixture bouyed by wins in round 12 of the SPL, with Tanjong Pagar United making history by thrashing Hougang United 4-1 and claiming their first win over the Cheetahs for the first time in 8 years, while Geylang also got their second half of the season off to a good start with a 3-1 come from behind win against Balestier Khalsa.

It was therefore totally unexpected to witness this match effectively won by the Eagles within the first 40 minutes, led by an inspired Ilhan Noor.

The first goal of the match duly arrived on 13 minutes, when a Geylang corner on the left by Amy Recha was fisted away Zharfan Rohaizad but only as far as Barry Maguire, whose left footed cross found its way through for Ilhan Noor to nod home.

Ilhan Noor was then involved again for the second goal when his long punt downfield caused confusion in the Tanjong Pagar defence, which saw Shakir Hamzah heading the ball straight into his own goal with Zharfan Rohaizad nowhere to be seen.

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Minutes later, it was three for Geylang as Ilhan Noor was the quickest to react in the box, slamming the ball home after Zharfan Rohaizad could only parry Matheus Moresche's shot off a Amy Recha cutback.

Morseche continued pressing for a goal and came close early in the second period when his left foot drive drew a save out of Zharfan down the left.

The Jaguars finally pulled a goal back on the hour mark when Luiz Junior turned on a six pence to fire home after Blake Riccuito had played him through with a flick on off Khairul Amri's pass.

The Jaguars were lucky not to concede more however, as the Eagles went close again on 77 minutes when Matheus Moresche forced another top drawer save from Zharfan Rohaizad following another marauding run down the left and Amy Recha could only fire his left footed volley from the rebound over the bar.

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