Tampines Rovers’ S.League title bid was dealt a big blow on Friday evening after they were beaten 3-2 by Eastern Derby rivals Geylang International at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
It was the Stags who drew first blood after 12 minutes when Kento Fukuda, in a bid to clear Roberto Alviz’s deflected cross, could only bring the ball down inside his own six-yard box and was dispossessed by Rodrigo Tosi.
The loose ball fell kindly to Firdaus Idros, who made no mistake in slotting into the bottom corner from close range to hand his side the lead.
However, Geylang responded four minutes before the half-hour mark after Tatsuro Inui floated a lovely freekick towards the back post, where Yuki Ichikawa climbed highest and managed to squeeze his header in from a tight angle.
Despite being underdogs for the clash, the Eagles were more than matching their opponents and they went ahead in the 62nd minute when they were awarded a penalty after Jufri Taha had blocked Bruno Castanheira’s bicycle-kick with his hands; Jozef Kaplan stepping up and making no mistake in sending Siddiq Durimi the wrong way from 12 yards.
Tampines did look threatening from set-pieces but Tosi was denied six minutes later when his firm header was cleared off the line by Anaz Hadee, before Yazid Yasin produced a fine save to deny Fahrudin Mustafic from point-blank range, after the ex-Singapore international had nodded the ball towards goal from six yards out.
Nonetheless, with two minutes remaining, it looked like the designated visitors had forced the draw as Tosi’s flick-on header was helped on by Jamil Ali into the path of Noh Alam Shah, who made no mistake in glancing the ball over the line from close range.
But barely a minute later, Geylang went up the other end and Inui did brilliantly to break free down the left and hit the byline before playing a cross into the box, where Bruno proceeded to send a clinical first-time volley on his left foot into the back of the net.
The game then turned ugly in the closing stages when Eagles midfielder Nor Azli Yusoff was shown a straight red for elbowing Alviz, which led to heated scenes by the touchline as both benches threatened to come to blows.
After both sides eventually, referee Jansen Foo issued marching orders to Stags fitness coach Aleksandar Duric, as well as Geylang boss Jorg Steinebrunner, who appeared to have done little apart from try to cool the situation down.
Still, the incident did little to dampen Geylang spirits as they celebrated an impressive victory moments later when the final whistle blew, which happened to be their first triumph of the season.
The result also meant Albirex Niigata (S) moved top of the table following a 1-0 win over Harimau Muda at the Hang Jebat Stadium; Atsushi Kawata netting the only goal of the game when he converted Hikaru Mizuno’s low cross in the 65th minute.
Friday’s S.League Results
Harimau Muda 0-1 Albirex Niigata (S)
Geylang International 3-2 Tampines Rovers