Friendly Called Off Early As Gymkhana & Balestier Share The Spoils

Photo: Christina Seah-Rodrigues

Aaron Chan
Writer / Editor
The Unofficial S.League Podcast

Christina Seah-Rodrigues
The Unofficial S.League Podcast

NFL Division 2 club Gymkhana FC drew 1-1 with Balestier United Recreation Club earlier this evening in a match which was being abandoned in the 72nd minute due to lightning risk.

Stallions coach Cher Chellayah had several regular starters at his disposal while Balestier's side was made up entirely of trialists and the early lack of communication proved nearly costly for the Recreationalists as Gymkhana was presented with an opportunity in the 5th minute when team captain Shafuan Sutomoh found himself unmarked in the box but he put too much power into his volley and fired it wide of the near post.

Former Tanjong Pagar man Jafri Hashim then unleashed a scorcher from long range eight minutes later which the Balestier keeper could only parry away. Gymkhana centre forward Rizuwan Mahzan reacted quickly and lunged for the rebound to put it away but was adjudged by the referee to have raised his boot too high. 

Photo: Christina Seah-Rodrigues

Former Balestier Khalsa goalkeeper Daniel Ong was played in an unfamiliar centre back role and the mismatch proved to be costly as Balestier's high line gave Shazlee Hamzah a chance to time his run perfectly to meet a long through ball in the 32nd minute and the 25 year old took a deft touch to loft the ball over the keeper before placing it into an empty net.

Rizuwan's imposing height proved to be a problem for Balestier United and his header off a corner in the 39th minte was fumbled by the keeper, who recovered quickly to cradle the ball.

Balestier then surprised Gymkhana when they sliced the Stallions apart with a quick counter-attack two minutes later. A quick exchange of passes saw the ball end up at the feet of trialist Kamarul, who slotted it home under the encroaching keeper. 

The restart saw Gymkhana throw veteran custodian Yazid Yasin onto the pitch while Ong was visibly more comfortable as he was moved between the sticks for Balestier.  

Former Woodlands Prime League player Fariss Haiqel put in an impressive shift in the second half which saw him cut off a series of Balestier attacks with his accomplished defending and Gymkhana could have gone ahead one again in the 58th minute when Shazlee threaded a terrific pass to Rizuwan but the striker was let down by his poor finishing.

Balestier United sparked off an attack of their own just three minutes later and could have gone ahead themselves if not for Yazid's safe hands.

The match was called off when the dreaded Lightning Warning System's alarm went off in the 72nd minute and the players were promptly ordered off the pitch.

Photo: Christina Seah-Rodrigues

Balestier United coach Kalai Selvan was reserved in his post match interview, "The team is more or less finalised for the upcoming season. There are one or two players from today's game which might be included in the squad due to the suspension (of a few of his players due to the fracas against SAFSA last season)." said the coach.

"Ultimately, it's not about getting players to make up the numbers but we need to ensure that the players have enough quality for us to rotate them around."

Meanwhile, Gymkhana coach Cher Chellayah felt that his team needed to improve on their fitness ahead of their season opening match against Admiralty Community Sports Club on 13th May. "I know we are lagging behind in terms of match fitness, team bonding and communication. Whatever we are doing now,  we are actually in preparation for the first match. We have to take it one match at a time."

"My main concern is still the team's fitness. That will be my focus for the next couple of training sessions before the season opener."   

Result at Serangoon Stadium - Friendly (30 April 2017):
Match abandoned in 72nd minute due to lightning risk

Balestier United - 1
Gymkhana FC - 1


Balestier United - Kamarul (Trialist) 41'
Gymkhana FC - Shazlee Hamzah 32'

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