Geylang United 1 Jozef Kaplan pen. 67’
Woodlands Wellington 1 Hussein Akil 20’
The two bottom teams in the S-League battled to a 1-1 draw at Bedok Stadium, as a second-half penalty from Jozef Kaplan saw Geylang come back to grab a share of the spoils after Hussein Akil had given Woodlands the lead in the first half.
It was the visitors who started off on the front foot, pushing men forward in attack as the home side looked like they were caught cold.
Moon Soon Ho, who was looking lively early on, saw a shot deflected wide after sixteen minutes, before flashing another strike over the bar moments later.
The Korean striker then turned provider on twenty minutes as he flicked a long ball through to striker partner Hussein Akil in the box, who made no mistake with a cool finish into the bottom corner to give Woodlands a deserved lead.
Akil nearly added a second in the 28th minute when he cut in from the left to unleash a low shot which Yazid Yasin could only deflect onto the post and away to safety.
Geylang tried to hit back on the half-hour, but debutant Stefan Milojevic curled his left-footed effort wide after Jozef Kaplan had pulled the ball back for him in the box.
Michael King had the ball in the back of the net three minutes before half-time but the striker was correctly flagged offside, as the home side went in a goal down at the break.
The home side finally found the breakthrough in the 67th minute, when Woodlands were penalised for a handball in the penalty area.
Slovakian midfielder Kaplan stepped up to dispatch the spot-kick into the bottom corner and level the scores, as the ball squirmed under the diving body of Ahmadulhaq Che Omar.
Moon then cut in from the left, but Yazid was equal to his powerful right-footed effort, palming it around the post. From the resulting corner, Hussein Akil saw his flick graze the post before going out, as the game started to come alive in the last ten minutes.
King had a great chance to win the game late on, but he fired wide of the near post with his weaker right foot after turning Danny Chew in the box.
Moon then knocked a cross from Goh Swee Swee past the far post with Yazid rooted to the spot, as both teams cancelled out each other in the end.
Geylang started the game poorly, perhaps due to the unfamiliar positions that many of the players found themselves playing in.
Midfielders Shah Hirul and Ang Zhiwei were deployed as fullbacks, while attacking midfielder Jozef Kaplan played in a defensive midfield role. Mun Seung Man, normally a striker, slotted in at central midfield.
While new signing Stefan Milojevic was meant to play a support striker role behind Michael King, he dropped back too often, resulting in King being isolated upfront, and the midfield being congested in the centre.
King is not an out-and-out striker and things looked a little better when Rizawan Abdullah was brought on for Jalal to go upfront in the second half, with King dropping back to left midfield.
Kaplan did well enough in a much deeper role, but this meant that Geylang sorely lacked creativity in the centre of the park, with Milojevic still trying to adapt to the game, although the debutant showed glimpses of good skill.
The same could be said for Woodlands, who only had Moon trying to create chances for himself and his teammates most of the time. The Korean striker was a constant thorn in the Eagles’ backline and kept on running throughout the entire game.
Their entire midfield offered little in the match, with Hussein Akil also fading away after a bright first half. While Daniel Hammond and Fabien Lewis defended well, they will struggle against the bigger sides if they do not get more adventurous going forward, as well as being less reliant on Moon and Hussein Akil.
In the end, it was a fair result as Geylang did well to come back stronger in the second half, although on the evidence of this match, both sides still have a lot to work on.
Although they gave credit to their opponents, both coaches were disappointed not to have secured victory.
Woodlands assistant coach Clement Teo bemoaned their poor finishing, as he admited that they were seeking a win in this match.
“We came here to win and we expected something, more than one point, so yes we are a little disappointed. Credit must go to Geylang who did well, especially in the first twenty minutes of the second half. We just couldn’t convert whatever we created in the first half, so we must learn (from this).”
Geylang head coach Kanan Vedhamuthu, meanwhile, was puzzled over offside decisions which went against his side.
“We had three disallowed goals and I have no idea whether those were legitimate offsides. Credit to Woodlands, they also played well, and their striker Moon was very dangerous.
“I thought we could have gotten the three points. In the first half we were quite scrappy, but I thought in the second half, we were the better team. We played well, created chances, and could have scored on a few occasions.”
Both teams are still stuck at the bottom of the table after this result on nine points apiece, with Woodlands above Geylang on goal difference, albeit having played one game more.
Geylang: Yazid Yasin (C), Shah Hirul, Shahril Alias, Syed Fadhil, Ang Zhiwei, Jozef Kaplan, Nurhazwan Norasikin, Stefan Milojevic (Amy Recha Pristifana 64’), Mun Seung Man, Jalal (Rizawan Abdullah 45’), Michael King. Unused subs: Ridhuan Barudin, Khayrulhayat Jumat, Ishak Zainol, Mubarak Ahamad, Zul Elhan Fahmi.
Woodlands: Ahmadulhaq Che Omar, Danny Chew, Fabien Lewis, Daniel Hammond (C), Duncan Elias, Armanizam Dolah, Aloysius Yap (Shamsurin Rahman 73’), Farizal Basri (Goh Swee Swee 56’), Hussein Akil, Neil Vanu, Moon Soon Ho. Unused subs: Ang Bang Heng, Edward Tan, Zulkarnian Malik, Omar Ismail, Guntur Djafril.
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