Ikhsan Fandi’s last-gasp equaliser gave Young Lions a share of the points with Geylang International after a 2-2 draw at Bedok Stadium on Saturday evening.
Yeo Hai Ngee had given the Eagles the lead twice in this game but R. Aaravin equalised the first time before Ikhsan combined with his brother Irfan Fandi to salvage a point for his team in the dying minutes of the Singapore Premier League game.
The first piece of action came in the 13th minute, with Fairoz Hasan latching onto Darren Teh’s pass but he was denied from close range by an onrushing Hairul Syirhan.
Geylang’s custodian Zainol Gulam was tested next, with Syahrul Sazali hitting a well-struck free-kick but the goalkeeper was equal to the task.
The Eagles were then given a huge let off in the 33rd minute, after Afiq Yunos gave the ball away to Ikhsan and the striker’s drilled effort was pushed away by Zainol.
Fairoz Hasan was unlucky not to open the scoring four minutes from half-time, as his venomous volley from outside the box was saved by Hairul.
The opener would come right after the restart, with Yeo tucking away the ball after Hairul could only parry Camreon Ayrton Bell’s shot into his path.
In the 55th minute, Fumiya Kogure went for an audacious attempt and curled a free-kick from the left byline towards the far post but Hairul was able to punch it away.
Just a minute later, Young Lions managed to draw level. Syahrul’s free-kick was allowed to bobble its way towards goal and Zainol failed to clear his lines, leading to a mad scramble which ended with Aaravin slamming the ball home.
But parity only lasted a minute, with Geylang going back in front in the 57th minute. Yeo once again found the mark, rising the highest to meet Teh’s cross with a bullet header.
Credit to the Young Lions, they did not falter and kept their heads up, looking for a second equaliser.
Joshua Pereira was unlucky to see his header bounce wide in the 69th minute while Saifullah Akbar will wonder how he failed to find the mark from close range following Irfan’s cut-back in the 77th minute.
Irfan himself will rue his miss in the 83rd minute, heading straight at Basil Chan, who had come on for the injured Zainol, following a free-kick from Ikhsan.
The elusive goal finally came towards the end of full time, with Irfan knocking down the ball for Ikhsan to rifle in his eighth goal of the season.
Geylang International Midfielder Yeo Hai Ngee: “It was too bad we couldn’t get the maximum points. Our concentration towards the end wasn’t too good and we didn’t get another goal, obviously we will have to work on that. We have a job to do, they have a tough game in Brunei so we must do our job and get three points and not give up (in the race to overtake the Young Lions).”
Young Lions Forward Ikhsan Fandi: “It feels great (to score) but I am still not satisfied. One of my target is win the Young Player of the Year award, the other is to score at least double digits but I didn’t get to do it today. I wanted to score a hat-trick but now I have eight goals this season, so I have to work harder for next season.
“Definitely, the last 15, 20 minutes we needed someone big in front because they had two big centre-backs and I was alone. Irfan is a big guy and he can take them on, when he knocked it back to me and it was just there for me to tap it in. I didn’t really have to think much, it was just my instinct as a striker.”
Geylang International FC: Zainol Gulam (GK) (Basil Chan 81’), Jufri Taha (C), Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Ryan Syaffiq (Danish Irfan 82’), Fumiya Kogure, Yeo Hai Ngee, Afiq Yunos, Cameron Ayrton Bell, Fairoz Hasan (Ahmad Zaki 90), Yuki Ichikawa
Young Lions: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Joshua Pereira (C), Ikhsan Fandi, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Syahrul Sazali, Irfan Fandi, Hami Syahin (Saifullah Akbar 79’), R. Aaravin, Rusyaidi Salime, Jacob Mahler, Ifwat Ismail (Haiqal Pashia 46’)