Match Review: High-Flying Eagles Cruise to Easy Victory over Tigers
Geylang International fans, fronted by the Ultras Eagles, had much to cheer about at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday night (April 12) as they watched their team thumped Balestier Khalsa by three goals without reply.
It was a good response from the fourth-placed side who were previously thrashed 6-1 by Albirex Niigata.
But the Eagles had to endure early pressure from the Tigers, with Hafiz Ahmad busily pulling off top-draw saves to deny his opponents.
The pick of the bunch came in the 17th minute when he palmed a fierce Masahiro Sugita shot over the bar.
After seeing through Balestier Khalsa's attacking forays, Geylang International found the breakthrough past the half-hour mark through Iqbal Hussain.
The 29-year-old winger, who was restored to the line-up after falling out of favour for a lack of attacking output in the early part of the campaign, kneeled on the ground in relief after he hit in from close range for his first goal of the season.
With the team oozing with confidence in the attacking third, it was Yushi Yamaya's turn to strike five minutes from half time.
A searching pass from Vincent Bezecourt found Yamaya, who then took a stride or two towards a backpeddling Tigers defence. The Japanese marksman subsequently picked his spot to unleash a fierce shot that deflected off a defender and wrong-footed the keeper.
That strike maintained Yamaya's hot streak in front of goal as he plundered his fourth in three games.
Balestier Khalsa's top goalscorer Ryoya Taniguchi, who already has six goals to his name this season, had a glorious opportunity to halve the deficit for his team midway through the second half.
But after using his foot to flick the ball into space that put him through on goal with only the keeper to beat, Geylang International were relieved to see Taniguchi putting his effort wide.
The game was then put beyond doubt by Gareth Low in the 77th minute. Once called out from the stands for "running like a headless chicken", Low produced a moment of brilliance this time.
Receiving the ball on a platter via a hasty clearance from ex-Eagles goalie Hairul Syirhan, the former Singapore under-19 international had some distance to execute an exquisite first-time strike that flew over the head of the opposing custodian and into the empty net.
The emphatic win strengthens Geylang International's grip on fourth spot with 13 points, putting them five points behind league leaders Albirex Niigata albeit having played one more game than their rivals.
Man of the match: Hafiz Ahmad - The 1.73m shotstopper had a vastly improved game from the hiding to Albirex Niigata. He put his body on the line and thwarted his opponents with quick reflex saves, especially in the opening exchanges of the match. His first clean sheet of the campaign and his second MoM are deservingly earned.