Hougang recover to end Geylang's unbeaten run
Geylang blow lead again as Cheetahs continue fine home form
HOUGANG UNITED 3
(Stipe Plazibat 54-pen, Faiz Salleh 59, Raihan Rahman 87)
GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL 1
(Carlos Delgado 15-pen)
For the fourth time in seven games, Geylang International blew the lead.
This time, in front of 1,537 fans at the fiery Hougang Stadium cauldron, it was worse as they surrendered their six-match unbeaten start to the season after the hosts came from behind to win 3-1 last night.
While Geylang coach Hasrin Jailani disagreed with some of referee Sukhbir Singh's decisions, especially the penalty claims that went against his team, the 40-year-old called upon his team to be sharper in front of goal and not to concede cheap fouls.
He said: "The unbeaten run had to come to an end some day, but it was disappointing to take the lead again and not win. The penalty decisions changed the complexion of the game.
"But we have to move on. Just like how our opponents came back against us, it is now up to us to rebound and show our character.
"We need to rectify our mistakes, be more consistent to convert our chances and not to give away stupid fouls."
The Eagles did benefit from a clear penalty when Fumiya Kogure tugged Sahil Suhaimi in the Hougang box to allow Carlos Delgado to slam in a 15th-minute spot-kick against his former team.
For once, Geylang's lead lasted for more than a few minutes after they conceded equalisers against Tampines Rovers, Brunei DPMM and Warriors FC almost straight after scoring as they went into the break a goal up.
But, with their coach K Balagumaran urging them to believe in themselves, the yoga-inspired Cheetahs kept their cool and had other ideas in the second half.
Kogure atoned for his earlier foul by winning the 54th-minute penalty, which Stipe Plazibat converted for his sixth goal of the season.
The Japanese S.League Player of the Year notched another assist five minutes later, when his corner found Faiz Salleh, whose header looped over Syazwan Buhari.
The Eagles had every reason to feel aggrieved as two seemingly legitimate penalty claims - one by Amy Recha in the 58th minute and another by Gabriel Quak in the 65th minute - were waved away by Sukhbir, who also booked Quak for simulation.
Sahil Suhaimi then missed two good chances when he sidefooted wide Faritz Abdul Hameed's 68th-minute cross, before shooting straight at Khairulhin Khalid after beating two defenders in the 84th minute.
Industrious Hougang central midfielder Raihan Abdul Rahman put the icing on the cake by lashing home from Iqbal Hussain's 87th-minute through-pass to propel his team to second place, just one point behind Tampines who have a game in hand.
Just as Geylang, who slipped to seventh in the nine-team league, are baffling their believers with their inability to add to their one win, Hougang are confounding critics with their four-match unbeaten home run.
Raihan said: "With the fans' support, the management's faith and the players' commitment, we are not just a team. We are also a family.
"So we will do our best not to let anyone one else come to our home and take anything away."
- HOUGANG: Khairulhin Khalid, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari, Yusiskandar Yusop, Anumanthan Mohan Kumar, Faiz Salleh (Khairulnizam Juma'at 77), Raihan Abdul Rahman, Nurhilmi Jasni, Fairoz Hasan (Iqbal Hussain 67), Jozef Kaplan (Huzaifah Aziz 89), Stipe Plazibat, Fumiya Kogure
- GEYLANG: Syazwan Buhari, Faritz Abdul Hameed, Shariff Samat, Daniel Bennett, Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman, Amy Recha (Shawal Anuar 75), Stanely Ng, Isa Halim (Nor Azli Yusoff 64), Carlos Delgado, Gabriel Quak (Indra Sahdan Daud 81), Sahil Suhaimi
- TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Raihan Rahman (Hougang)