Geylang hold off Cheetahs to win League Cup Plate

Geylang International had to survive a second-half onslaught by Hougang United as they brought the League Cup Plate back home after a 2-1 victory. 

Mark Hartmann once again played a pivotal role as he scored once and provided Shawal Anuar with an assist for Geylang to take a 2-0 lead.

Jozef Kaplan reduced the deficit just before the break and Hougang poured forward in the second half, but they just could not grab that all-important equaliser.

The Eagles had enjoyed a good start to the game and could have gone in front after six minutes but an unmarked Shawal Anuar sliced his shot wide from close range.

Three minutes later, Geylang failed to clear their lines and Afiq Noor found himself unmarked with the ball but he shot across the face of goal when it was easier to hit the target instead.

Near the half hour mark, Mark Hartmann dazzled his way into the box and drew a save out of Hougang goalkeeper Ridhuan Barudin. The ball fell for Roberto Camarasa but he hooked wide from close range.

The Eagles took the lead in the 32nd minute, after Hartmann latched onto Anders Aplin’s cross and beat the offside trap to lob Ridhuan.

It was 2-0 minutes later, as Hartmann turned provider and played Shawal through. The latter beat two defenders before delivering a strong finish.

Hougang got back into the game in the 44th minute, with Afiq and Fumiya Kogure one-twos creating havoc before the Japanese playmaker found Kaplan in the box. With one touch, the striker proceeded to rifle in an unstoppable effort.

The goal gave Hougang the impetus to attack in the second half as Geylang tried to ride out the storm.

Stipe Plazibat nearly equalised for Hougang in the 58th minute but his shot from three yards out was diverted away by Al-Qaasimy Rahman while Hairul Syirhan parried Kogure’s effort on 66th minute.

The Cheetahs came close again in the 81st minute but Syahir did well to keep out Kaplan’s drive from distance.

Hougang’s woes were compounded as full-time loomed, with defender Delwinder Singh seeing red for earning a second yellow card.

Geylang coach Hasrin Jailani was satisfied he could win a trophy in his first season in charge, even if the prize was just a Plate.

“Today we had luck, they worked really hard in the second half but Hougang had four or five chances and we worked really hard to keep them at bay,” Hasrin said..

“For us this League Cup Plate, we went all the way due to our hard work. Nothing beats hard work and the boys know that now.”

Opposite counterpart K. Balagumaran was disappointed by the result but he could not fault his side for a lack of trying.

“We created well, we played according to the game plan… the boys played well, I cannot ask for anything more,” he said.

Main Photo: S.League