Gombak United 2 (Obadin Aikhena 24’, Julien Durand 78’)
Geylang United 0
Photo courtesy of FAS
After their heartbreaking 2-3 loss to reigning champions Tampines Rovers in their previous game, Gombak returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Geylang United at the Jurong West Stadium last night.
Goals from Obadin Aikhena and Julien Durand on either side of each half were enough for the Bulls to leapfrog Hougang into seventh spot after the Cheetahs fell to a late goal to SAFFC in a game played simultaneously last night.
The Bulls made one notable change to their side from their last game, opting to start with former Eagle Adrian Dhanaraj ahead of youngster Muhd Nur Naiim in midfield. For Geylang, it was an unchanged team from the one which beat Courts Young Lions 2-0 in their last outing.
For the first 20 minutes, Gombak seemed to struggle to break down Geylang’s five-man midfield with rookie Basil Gerard Teo doing well to protect his back four.
But the first goal would come on 24 minutes when defender Ismail Yunos cleverly won a free kick on the right-hand side of the pitch. K Vikraman then delivered an inswinging cross into the area which skipper Obadin Aikhena powered home from six yards after he outjumped Rhema Obed to the ball.
Hafiz Rahim came close to extending the lead for the Bulls two minutes later but somehow scuffed his effort with the outside of his boot after Julien Durand had done well to cut the ball back. Durand then had a chance of his own to get his name onto the scoresheet for the second game running but his bicycle kick skimmed the bar as the Geylang defence heaved a sigh of relief.
Rain descended on the Jurong West pitch just before the second half kicked off but it did not really affect the players on the pitch as Durand again came close to scoring on 56 minutes. It started with a great ball from Hafiz Rahim, picking out the timed run of Durand but Durand’s shot was at the end of the day, too weak as Geylang’s custodian Yazid Yasin kept it out with his outstretched left foot.
Jung Hee Bong then flashed an effort wide with his left foot on 63 minutes before Geylang’s Jozef Kaplan managed a deflected shot three minutes later which failed to trouble Zaiful Nizam, the man between the sticks for Gombak on a cool Sunday evening.
Zaiful suffered a momentary lapse in concentration on 70 minutes after rushing off his line to try to get to a loose ball but failed to get it. Fortunately for him, his defenders managed to clear the danger before it could even develop further.
Julien Durand finally got his name on the scoresheet in the 78th minute, sealing all three points for the home side in the process. Nurullah Hussein’s quick throw from the left was flicked on by the lanky Jung Hee Bong and it fell only as far to Durand who took a touch before squeezing a shot into the bottom corner past Yazid Yasin from a very tight angle.
There was to be no repeat of Gombak's previous game when they conceded three late goals to eventually lose out, walking away with all three points this time round to record only their second home win of the season.
According to Gombak coach K Balagumaran, it was the fact that his hard work on the training ground paid off that was most pleasing to him today.
“What I worked over this one week after the Tampines game, paid off. Defensively, we did well,” he said.
Despite defending well throughout, he thought that there could still be improvement from his side when it comes to finishing, especially in front of goal.
“Whenever we focus on one aspect of the game (defending), the other goes down. The finishing today was poor, I thought we had a lot of chances but failed to convert them.”
On the performance of Adrian Dhanaraj who started his first game of the season at the expense of Nur Naiim Ishak, impressive in the games he has played thus far this season, Balagumaran explained: “I thought he did an excellent job, sitting back behind in midfield and dealt comfortably with (the threat) posed by Michael King. It was not easy but he did what I wanted him to do and that was to keep it simple.”
Balagumaran’s opposite number, Kanan Vedhamuthu, conceded that it was a ‘silly first goal’ which his side failed to recover from.
“We lacked experience and after all, our players are young and they don’t have the experience as compared to Gombak,” he added.
Apart from the goals, Kanan felt that Gombak were pretty ordinary with the constant hoofing of long balls up for Jung Hee Bong who stood heads and shoulders above his defenders. It was however a concern for him even before the game, he admitted.
Gombak next face a Courts Young Lions side fresh from their thumping of Tanjong Pagar just two nights ago at the Jalan Besar Stadium in the week’s live televised game. For Geylang, they take on Japanese outfit Albirex Niigata (S) at the Bedok Stadium on the same day, in hope that home advantage could spur them on to achieve a respectable result.
Gombak United: Zaiful Nizam (GK), Nurullah Hussein, Obadin Aikhena (C), Walid Lounis, Ismail Yunos, Hafiz Rahim (Mustaqim Manzur 68’), Adrian Dhanaraj (Shafuan Sutohmoh 81’), Chris Anderson, K Vikraman (Fareez Farhan 54’), Julien Durand, Jung Hee Bong Unused subs:, Amran Addin, Fairoz Hasan, Samuel Benjamin, Muhd Nur Naiim
Geylang United: Yazid Yasin (GK, C), Salim Rahim, Shahril Alias, Jalal (Rizawan Abdullah 55’), Rhema Obed, Michael King, Syed Fadhil (Faizal Samad 83’), Mun Seung Man (Amy Recha 68’), Ang Zhiwei, Jozef Kaplan, Basil Gerard Teo Unused subs: Ridhuan Barudin, Ishak Zainol, Mubarak Ahamad, Hassan Aziz
Yellow card(s): Walid Lounis, Nurullah Hussein (Gombak United); Salim Rahim (Geylang United)
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