Lady Luck shines on Geylang as fight for third heats up


Geylang International grabbed a last-gasp winner to edge Balestier Khalsa 2-1 at the Bedok Stadium on Thursday night, keeping their top-three hopes alive in the process.  

It had looked like Geylang were heading for a frustrating eighth draw of the season, before substitute Sahil Suhaimi popped up with the match-winner right at the end of regulation time.

It was truly a great escape for the Eagles, who had gone one goal down four minutes before the break.

Balestier's Croatian forward Niko Tokic converted from the spot to break the deadlock, after strike partner Miroslav Kristic was brought down in the area by Nor Azli.

However, Geylang would level matters on the stroke of half-time, with Mark Hartmann's 25-yard free kick eluding everyone in the box before going in off the post.

Eagles coach Hasrin Jailani threw on speedy attackers Sahil Suhaimi and Stanely Ng shortly after the break, but the Bedok-based club continued to struggle in the attacking third.

Shahfiq Ghani was Geylang's last throw of the dice with 13 minutes to go, but it was Balestier who went the closest to finding the winner.

Tokic's shot from a tight angle was parried by Geylang goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari, before Zulkiffli Hassim fired into the side netting minutes later.

It looked like the Tigers' effort would finally pay off in the 89th minute when Kristic appeared to beat the offside trap and went through via Tokic's pass, but linesman Victor Teo ruled otherwise before the former could fire at goal.

That decision swung the game Geylang's way as they went on to grab the decisive goal a minute later.

Shahfiq sneaked down the right via Ng's pass, before squaring it across goal for Sahil to prod past a helpless Balestier custodian Daniel Ong.

To compound matters for Balestier, they would end the game with just ten men with Zulkiffli getting a straight red.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Kraljevic felt that the close decision by the linesman undone the Tigers.

"I saw it, but I cannot tell," hinted the German-Croat. "I'm very disappointed with this result.

"We created more chances than Geylang and were the much better team, but this is football. If you don't convert your chances, you lose the game."

On the other hand, Hasrin was glad that his Eagles got the rub of the green to heat up the race for third position.

DPMM currently occupies that spot with 29 points, but Geylang are just a point behind - albeit having played a game more.

Hougang are similarly on 28 points, while Home are not exactly out of it despite being on 25 points.

"When you keep working hard, the win will come," said the former Singapore international. "We left it late to win today, but the effort from the boys was there.

"The turning point was scoring just before half-time. That meant we came into the second half all level and we could play our game.

"This win is really important for us because now we go on a three-week break before our next league game (against Albirex Niigata (S) ). As long as we keep winning, we are still within the challenge (for third)."

Main Photo: S.League