Hartmann a hitman for Geylang
Eagles' new striker is doing his best to match his target
BALESTIER KHALSA 2
(Niko Tokic 9, Fadhil Noh 22)
GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL 2
(Mark Hartmann 55, 90)
He had set himself a target of scoring a goal a game for the remainder of the season.
Geylang International's mid-season transfer signing, Mark Hartmann, went one better last night when the Eagles took on Balestier Khalsa in The New Paper League Cup Group B clash at the Toa Payoh Stadium.
The Southampton-born Filipino bagged a brace against the Tigers in a 2-2 draw, giving the away fans something to cheer about.
What made the former Global FC striker's performance even more impressive was that the Eagles went into the interval trailing by two goals and were without seven players who were away with the Singapore training squad.
The 24-year-old stepped up, hitting the mark in the 55th and 90th minutes to ensure his team did not leave empty-handed.
Coach Hasrin Jailani was effusive in his praise for the team and Hartmann, in particular.
"We came back from two goals down so, obviously, I am very delighted," said the first-year coach.
"Our second half in particular was very good. Mark has been the difference for us in the last few games.
"During the first half of the season, we were able to create chances but could not finish. Having someone like Mark who gives us the finishing touch is really something that we need."
The former Singapore international insisted there was still room for improvement.
"We need to work on our defending during set-pieces," he said.
"Today, the two goals that we conceded were from set-pieces and they were Balestier's only efforts on target, so this is something that we need to improve on."
Thanks to Fazli Ayob's accurate deliveries, Balestier exposed Geylang's frailties at set-piece defending as early as the ninth minute when Niko Tokic rose unopposed to nod home off a corner.
They struck again in the 22nd minute, this time it was Fadhil Noh who found himself on the end of a Fazli delivery, stabbing the ball into the back of the net.
Hartmann had already missed a gilt-edged chance to draw level a minute earlier after he fired straight at Naqiuddin Nodin.
The Philippine international spurned another glorious chance in the 36th minute, watching in agony as his looping effort went an inch too high.
The Bedok-based outfit went into the second half with renewed purpose and were thrown a lifeline when Hartmann was at the right place at the right time to head home Nor Azli Yusoff's cross to the back-post.
It was all Geylang from then on, but they failed to convert a catalogue of chances before Hartmann's moment of magic, seconds before referee Ahmad A'Qashah blew the final whistle.
Hartmann collected the ball on the edge of the box before swivelling instinctively and curling a screamer into the top corner.
Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic preferred to look at the result as one point gained.
"We played well in the first half scoring two good goals," he said.
"But they scored early in the second half and put pressure on us from then on.
"We were not able to attack and then they equalised at the last minute. I am disappointed with the result but happy with the performance because we played well today."
TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Mark Hartmann (Geylang Int'l)
Naqiuddin Nodin, Fadli Kamis, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Nurullah Hussein, Ho Wai Loon (Ahmad Syahir 76), Fazli Ayob (Syafiq Zainal 80), Tan Danial Farhan, Gary Loo, Fadhil Noh (Smajovic Sadin 76), Jamil Ali, Niko Tokic.
Hairul Syirhan, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Yuki Ichikawa, Shariff Samat, Noor Azli Yusoff, Ifwat Ismail (Shawal Anuar 46), Roberto Camarasa, Isa Halim, Umar Akhbar (B. Jeevakumaran 82), Indra Sahdan (Taufiq Ghani 66), Mark Hartmann.
OTHER GROUP B RESULT
Home United 0 Albirex Niigata 2