Geylang International fell short of their season target of a top-four finish in the Singapore Premier League after slumping to a 3-1 defeat to Lion City Sailors on the final day of the league campaign.
With a reversal suffered by fourth-placed Balestier Khalsa in the hands of Tampines Rovers the night before, a chance was presented for the Eagles to bridge a three-point gap and leapfrog their midtable rivals on superior goal difference.
Playing in front of a passionate Ultras Eagles crowd whose boisterous singing and drumming turned the Bishan naval fortress into their nest, the away team gave their long-suffering supporters something to cheer when they took a deserved lead through a Yushi Yamaya close-range header past the half-hour mark.
Iqbal Hussain was then given two great opportunities to extend the Eagles' lead before half-time. Unfortunately, the Singapore forward was unable to put away those gilt-edged chances with the goal at his mercy.
The double misses were to allow the Sailors to regroup at the break. True enough, the league's first runners-up came out of the tunnel with all guns blazing.
Despite the best efforts of Hafiz Ahmad in preserving his side's slender lead, he could not prevent Shawal Anuar's point-blank header and was hapless when Hami Syahin fired a rocket into the net.
Geylang was then gifted a numerical advantage in the 70th minute when a red card was dished out to Lionel Tan for denying a goalscoring opportunity. However, that sending off turned out to be immaterial to the outcome of the game as the Sailors further rubbed salt into the Eagles' wound by jabbing a third goal late in stoppage time.
With Geylang kicking off their Singapore Cup campaign against newly crowned league champions Albirex Niigata in two weeks' time, they have to quickly overcome their disappointment and try to give a good cup run for their fans.
Man of the match: Ultras Eagles - The diehard supporter group outcheered their rival fan club with loud cheers and drumming in this away encounter, turning the Bishan Stadium from a naval base into an eagles nest. Regardless of the results of their beloved team, one is certain that the Ultras Eagles - who have been around the local football scene for 12 years - would turn up in droves and cajole their heroes in green to play their best for the pride of the club.