Geylang come up short
Needing a five-goal win, they win by three and miss a hatful of chances
GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL 4
(Mark Hartmann 6, Shahfiq Ghani 68, Gabriel Quak 83, Daniel Bennett 91)
HOME UNITED 1
(Ken Ilso 50)
They needed to win by five goals to wrest an AFC Cup spot from their opponents.
In the end, Geylang International beat Home United by only three - but also struck the woodwork three times.
The Eagles' 4-1 win over Home at the Bedok Stadium last night saw the visitors hang on to a fourth-place finish in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League, and a place in the continental AFC Cup competition next season.
With a shrug of his shoulders, Geylang coach Hasrin Jailani said: "We had enough chances, but today is just not our day. We could have scored three or four more."
Hasrin set his side up in an ultra-attacking 3-4-3 formation, deploying centre back Yuki Ichikawa as a targetman up front, surrounded by no less than five forwards.
Filipino striker Mark Hartmann gave the home side a dream start after just six minutes, when his shot from the halfway line caught Home goalkeeper Eko Pradana in no man's land.
The early goal, plus some aggressive challenges from Geylang, rattled Home. They almost conceded twice in quick succession soon after, but Shawal Anuar's shot rocked the upright and a wild clearance by Home defender Shamil Sharif cannoned into his own goalkeeper and safely wide.
The Eagles continued to put pressure on the Protectors in the second half, and Hartmann's free-kick was pushed onto the upright by rookie shot-stopper Eko at full stretch.
But a minute later, Ken Ilso eased the pressure on Home when he broke through the Geylang defence and slid the ball home to level the score.
Geylang were undeterred, and Shawal missed another golden opportunity when he shanked his shot over from just three metres out.
Shahfiq Ghani restored the Eagles' lead in the 68th minute with a shot from 25 metres that left the goalkeeper rooted.
There was still time for Sahil Suhaimi to see his shot tipped onto the post by Eko, before Gabriel Quak and Daniel Bennett scored two late goals.
But time simply ran out for the home side.
Home coach Aidil Sharin admitted he was relieved to hear the final whistle.
"When they scored the early goal, it was a boost for them, and you can see they wanted it," he said.
"We had our own chances too, but when you don't take them, you get punished.
"But I cannot fault my players. Even though they were under pressure, we still tried to play good football. We didn't just come here and park the bus.
"Having said that, yes, we have the (AFC Cup) spot, but there's work to be done for next season."
LAST NIGHT'S OTHER MATCH:
- Warriors FC 5 Hougang United 1