S-League: Eagles too eager

Tanjong Pagar players celebrating a goal during the Great Eastern Yeo's S-League 2013 match.

Geylang International coach V Kanan had every reason to be annoyed after his side's 1-1 draw with Tanjong Pagar last night at the Queenstown Stadium.

The Eagles were on course for their first win in five Great Eastern-Yeo's S-League matches, thanks to Shotaro Ihata's 62nd-minute goal, until two incidents in the final three minutes of the game turned three points into one.

First, Geylang were denied what looked a legitimate goal in the 87th minute after Jozef Kaplan coolly latched onto a superb pass from Stefan Milojevic to slot the ball home.

But referee Leow Thiam Hoe disallowed the goal after his assistant Daniel Wong flagged for offside.

Three minutes later, the Eagles shot themselves in the foot when they poured forward for an attack and left themselves exposed at the back.

Kamel Ramdani put the finishing touch on a slick Tanjong Pagar move for a last-minute equaliser.

Kanan was clearly frustrated after the match.

"Everybody said he wasn't offside, but the linesman did," said Kanan, of Kaplan's disallowed goal.

"But we also have ourselves to blame. Everybody went forward for that late counter-attack, including Nori (Japanese defender Norihiro Kawakami).

"We didn't need to do that. We were leading 1-0, that was enough for three points. But we lost the ball and Tanjong Pagar scored.

"Maybe my players thought a second goal would give them extra points."

With a severely depleted side because of injuries and suspensions, Kanan was forced to field three Prime League players.

But, as the coach later happily admitted, the trio performed "above expectations", with midfielder Fuad Ramli, brother of LionsXII winger Faris, catching the eye.

Tanjong Pagar had selection problems of their own and had to also summon two Prime League youngsters off the bench late on as they chased the game.

Geylang had gone ahead just past the hour mark after Japanese striker Ihata bagged his first goal for the club since signing in January, heading home from a corner.

Top-six finish

But the high-flying Jaguars, who have seen their title hopes fade after winning just three of their last 11 games, came storming back for an equaliser and found it through Ramdani with just seconds remaining.

Tanjong Pagar coach Patrick Vallee said he was satisfied with his team's performance, which was enough to secure them a top-six finish this season.

"I'm very happy because everything seems to be against us at the moment," said the Frenchman, referring to his players who were either injured or suspended.

"But we never gave up and to score the goal at the end was great.

"Now, we have a (three-week) break to prepare for the rest of the season and, hopefully, we can achieve something before the season is finished."

TANJONG PAGAR: Aurelien Herisson, Hanafi Salleh (Shafiq Noh 81), Anthony Aymard, Zahid Ahmad, Azhar Ahmad, Hafiz Nor, John Wilkinson, Kamel Ramdani, Asraf Rashid (Irfan Ibrahim 86), Ismael Benahmed, Monsef Zerka.

GEYLANG: Takuma Ito, Harithzan Jantan (Wyldan Wisam 74), Wahyudi Wahid (Fuad Ramli 37), Norihiro Kawakami, Jalal, Yasir Hanapi, Stefan Milojevic, Taufiq Ghani, Jozef Kaplan, Duncan Elias (Andrew Tan 46), Shotaro Ihata.

TNP Man of the Match:

Fuad Ramli (Geylang)

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