Geylang International flexed its new-found prowess at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night (July 8) as they saw off the challenge of a depleted Young Lions squad with a 2-0 victory.
Against the Cubs who were decimated by call-ups to the AFF Under-19 tournament, the away side hardly moved into top gear for most of the proceedings. Yet, they were able to conjure two second-half goals via Sime Zuzul and Tajeli Salamat to clinch their third consecutive win.
With the Eagles gifting four points to Young Lions in the earlier two encounters this season, the visitors were determined to set the records straight for this match and took the game to their opponents from the first whistle.
Vincent Bezecourt produced two early chances and one of those came from a mazy solo run.
Having established a reputation as the league's dribbling master, the French midfielder ran from the half-way line and evaded challenges from five opposing players. It was a pity Bezecourt could not cap off his magical performance with a goal, as he fired straight at the keeper Dylan Pereira.
Geylang International thought that they had found the net in the 19th minute. A deep cross from Tajeli was headed in by Hazzuwan Halim from six yards. But the goal was ruled offside by the linesman, to the disbelief of those watching the game.
Hazzuwan had no luck in adding to his four-goal tally of the season as his next effort was denied by the crossbar. The 28-year-old nearly profited from a goal mouth scramble when the ball landed at his feet from a Huzaifah Aziz header - only to see his lob pinging off the top of the goal frame.
Hazzuwan's fortune in front of goal continued to desert him in the second half. Another teasing cross from Tajeli was headed across goal by a Young Lions defender. The former Balestier forward who was lurking in the penalty box, quickly pounced on the ball from close range. However, his shot was charged down by the opposing custodian.
By the midway point of the second half, there were growing concerns in the away stand whether Geylang International's wasteful finishing would deny them the three points.
All it took was a referee's intervention in the 72nd minute for the second-lowest scoring team in the league to find a breakthrough.
Bezecourt who had Major League Soccer and European tournament experience under his belt, smartly won a penalty after being floored by Young Lions skipper Shah Shahiran. Zuzul then stepped up with an icy cool expression and converted his third spot kick of the season.
The Croatian hotshot could have doubled his goal scoring account of the night seven minutes later. But his one-on-one effort was parried by the Young Lions goalie.
Tajeli made the points safe for the Eagles one minute from full time when his fierce cross from the right was diverted into goal off the outstretched leg of an unfortunate Pereira.
Geylang International with their fourth win of the season, are level on points with fifth-placed rivals Hougang United. A stern test against defending champions Lion City Sailors next weekend awaits for the in-form side.
Man of the match: Tajeli Salamat - The right back delivered several crosses which unsettled the Young Lions backline. One of those pinpoint deliveries found his teammate Hazzuwan Halim, whose strike in the first half was ruled offside. Nevertheless, the Lion City Sailors loanee capped an outstanding performance with a fine goal which wrapped up the win for the Eagles. His ineligibility to face his parent club will leave a big void to fill.