One coach was gutted while the other was all smiles at the end of Wednesday night’s Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League game at Bedok Stadium, won 2-0 by home team Geylang International
Kanan had to be reminded that this was his team’s first home win of the season, having taken three points from only one match before this, in Johor against Harimau Muda B 4-1.
With key players Stefan Milojevic and Shah Hirul still sidelined with injuries and tough midfielder Fabian Kwok suspended, Geylang had some sorting out to do, but so too did Hougang when midfielder, Tom Beattie, had to withdraw after the warm-up, failing to recover from a bout of flu in time to get through a full 90 minutes.
Hougang welcomed back star Guinean, Mamadou Diallo, to fill a void left by the absent Liam Shotton, injured in the previous game. Diallo had one of his better outings, but was denied by some stout Geylang
defending, despite getting in some fierce and well-placed shots.
Similarly, fellow-striker, Robert Eziakor, had no luck, his efforts either blocked by desperate defenders or claimed by the agile and brave Joey Sim, every inch the Singapore number three goalkeeping choice on the evidence of this display.
But for all their dominance Hougang could not breach a well-drilled Geylang backline or a tight midfield, despite some excellent lead-up work from Diallo, Eziakor and the once-again-impressive Jerome Baker.
Geylang rarely troubled Hougang keeper, Fadhil Salim, until they scored, although there was one glaring first-half miss by Kaplan and a tumble from Shotaro Ihata in the penalty area, after only 20 minutes, that might well have earned the displeasure of the referee, but the match official waved play on instead.
Some outstanding counter-attacking by Geylang earned them their 66th minute lead. Jalal on the left exchanging passes with his Slovakian skipper after smart work from Duncan Elias, before Kaplan dashed into the six-yard box and sent an absolute left-footed screamer past Fadhil, giving the under-worked keeper absolutely no chance.
Right at the end, with Hougang striving to level the scores, another fine move on the left saw substitute Wahyudi Wahid feed Kaplan, this time in the middle, with another substitute, Khairulnizam Jumahat, finishing Kaplan’s pass off brilliantly from the right, with a superb volley, virtually with his first touch.