Hartmann earns a point for Geylang with late stunner

Geylang International had two-goal hero Mark Hartmann to thank for as they came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Balestier Khalsa at Toa Payoh Stadium on Thursday evening. 

Balestier were cruising after goals from Niko Tokic and Fadhil Noh in the first half gave them a comfortable lead but Hartmann pulled one back for the Eagles after the restart before levelling matters with a sumptuous effort from all of 30 yards in the 89th minute.

The Tigers took the lead in the ninth minute after Tokic met Fadhil Noh’s corner and glanced a header past Hairul Syirhan.

Tokic had Hairul scrambling across his lines just a minute later as the striker latched onto Jamil Ali’s pass and drilled a shot just past the post.

The visitors could have drawn level in the 20th minute when Nurullah Hussein gave away possession to Hartmann but the Filipino international was denied by Naqiuddin Nodin.

That allowed Balestier to double their lead two minutes later, as Fazli Ayob’s free-kick into the danger area was diverted by Fadhil into goal.

However, Hartmann was still proving to be a nuisance up front for the Eagles and he saw three attempts thwarted by Naqiuddin before the break came.

The Geylang striker finally came good in the 54th minute, as he backpedalled to meet Nor Azli’s cross at the back post and directed a header into goal.

That goal gave the Eagles more impetus to attack, as they threw bodies forward in search of the equaliser.

Hartmann shot just wide in the 66th minute while substitute Shawal Anuar stung Naqiuddin’s palms with a fierce drive in the 74th minutes.

The equaliser finally came just a minute before time, with Hartmann volleying in a sublime thunderbolt into the top corner.

Balestier will face Albirex Niigata (S) next, while Geylang will play Home United.

Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic was disappointed to see his side miss out on three points but he gave credit to Hartmann for scoring a spectacular equaliser.

"It was an excellent goal, even his first goal was good. Both goals were beautiful, but when they were pushing very hard we should have used this space behind them. We should have done better and scored a third goal to finish them off," Kraljevic said.

"In this case, we lost two points by conceding a last-minute goal but we need to move on."

Geylang coach Hasrin Jailani too was pleased with his striker's contribution and he believes this will prove vital in the following weeks.

"Again we were two goals down and we came back so I am delighted with our second-half performance," Hasrin said.

"Hartmann is the difference right now, during the first half of the season, we could create but we couldn’t finish the chances."

The game did give the Geylang coach more food for thought too, as he aims to work on his defence in the following days

"We need to work on our defending in set-pieces, we let in two goals from set pieces and this is not good as Balestier didn’t have many chances," he added.

"One point is better than zero, it builds confidence for us to the next stage, but we need to improve to win our next few games."

Main Photo: Weixiang Lim / FFT

Video courtesy of S.League