Deadlocked down in the cellar

GEYLANG 1

(Jozef Kaplan pen 68)

WOODLANDS 1

(Hussein Akil 22)

"Who's that No. 9?" asked an observer at the Bedok Stadium last night. Few among the 414 crowd would have left without noticing Stefan Milojevic, Geylang's new French-Serbian striker.

The 23-year-old was the standout performer in the 1-1 draw.

The were a few "oohs" when he turned his marker during the first 10 minutes and played a delightful through pass to his teammate.

The crowd buzzed again when he did a Cruyff turn on the right wing and played a pinpoint cross for Mun Seung Man in the box.

By the time he cracked a shot inches wide just before the break, Milojevic, who previously played for USC Corte in the French fourth division, was clearly making a good first impression.

Said Geylang coach V Kanan: "Stefan played very well. It was his first game tonight, so he didn't know what to expect.

"Now that he knows, I'm sure he'll get even better.

"Woodlands realised how dangerous he was in the first half. After that, they closed him down with two, sometimes three men."

The Rams started the match brightly, with Milojevic the only spark in an otherwise sloppy Geylang team.

It came as little surprise when the visitors opened the scoring through Hussein Akil, who latched on to a Moon Soon Ho through ball and slotted past Yazid Yasin.

Though Milojevic had created two clear chances for his team, poor finishing by Mun and Michael King meant Geylang went into the break a goal down.

The Eagles returned for the second half with a little more vigour, but for all their possession, couldn't quite stay onside to muster a shot on goal.

Ironically, it was only after Milojevic was substituted - he suffered from cramps in the 64th minute - that Geylang finally equalised.

Referee Sukhbir Singh hesitated for a second before pointing to the spot after a Rams player had handled the ball in the box.

Jozef Kaplan dispatched the spot-kick with ease.

It was the second consecutive game in which Woodlands lost their lead.

"It's something we have been working on. And it looks like we have to keep working on it," said Woodlands assistant coach Clement Teo, referring to the side's inability to maintain the lead.

"In the English Premier League, this type of match would be called a six-pointer.

"We came here for the win, so we're disappointed to go back with just a point."

Kanan was relieved that his side fought back to share the points, but was equally disappointed with the result.

It seemed the only one pleased after last night's game was Milojevic.

"I feel very good," he said.

"I expected the level of the league to be lower than this, but it's actually quite tough.

"And also, we played a bottom team tonight, so it surely will get tougher.

"I just have to adapt to this weather. I never played in such heat before. That's why I got the cramps."

GEYLANG: Yazid Yasin, Shahril Alias, Jalal (Rizawan Abdullah 46), Stefan Milojevic (Amy Recha 64), Michael King, Syed Fadhil, Mun Seung Man, Shah Hirul, Ang Zhiwei, Jozef Kaplan, Nurhazwan Norasikin

WOODLANDS: Ahmadulhaq Che Omar, Danny Chew, Duncan Elias, Fabien Lewis, Daniel Hammond, Armanizam Dolah, Moon Soon Ho, Aloysius Yap (Shamsurin Rahman 72), Farizal Basri (Goh Swee Swee 57), Hussein Akil, Neil Vanu

aakasim@sph.com.sg

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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