Updated: Apr 12
Geylang International left their scoring boots at home as they slumped to their third league defeat to the Tigers at Our Tampines Hub on last Sunday evening (April 10).
The passionate Ultras Eagles - who were out in full force at the home ground for the third time in nine days - left the stadium wondering what a night it could have been if the Eagles made their chances count.
Geylang International dominated proceedings in the first half, but struggled to find good opportunities in front of the Balestier Khalsa's goal.
The best chance of the half fell to Vincent Bezecourt in the 21st minute. The former New York Red Bulls player glanced his header past the Tigers' left goal post, after connecting with a deep cross from the left.
The Eagles had another great chance to take the lead right after the break. A cross from Zulfadhmi Suzliman found Šime Žužul just outside the six-yard box. But the Croatian hotshot could not score against his former employers as his header was blocked by the keeper.
The failure to convert those limited opportunities was to haunt Geylang International when Balestier Khalsa were to score on the half-hour mark from their first attempt of the second half.
Abdil Qaiyyim who was carrying a knock before the game, slipped while attempting to pry the ball away from the Tiger's creative force, Ryoya Taniguchi.
After initially tumbling to the ground from Abdil's challenge, Taniguichi quickly recovered and strode a pass to his Japanese partner Shuhei Hoshino, who found acres of space in the box.
Jumbo, as he was affectionately known by the Tigers fans, shot from close range, giving Zaiful Nizam no chance to keep the ball out.
Being a goal down against the run of play, one would expect the Eagles to stage a fightback as seen from their past matches this season.
Curiously, this willpower to draw level was not evidenced for the remaining second half. In fact, it was the Tigers who were more threatening in scoring the next goal.
Geylang International almost found themselves two goals down four minutes after conceding the first goal.
Taniguchi, a tormentor of Geylang's left flank, whipped in a cross for Naufal Azman who was running speedily into the 12-yard box. To the relief of the Eagles supporters, Naufal could only shoot straight at an onrushing Zaiful, and the ball was cleared to safety by Ilhan Noor.
Zaiful came to the team's rescue once more in the 87th minute when he repelled Kuraba Kondo's shot, after the latter was on the receiving end of a Balestier Khalsa's counter-attacking move.
But Zaiful's late goalkeeping heroics were in vain as his attackers could not find the finished product at the other end of the pitch.
The narrow defeat dented Geylang International's season aspirations, with the team winless in five matches and languishing second from bottom of the league table.
The Geylang faithful expect the club to achieve no less than a victory against the Young Lions this Saturday, and to finish the first round of the league campaign on a high note.
Man of the match: Zaiful Nizam - With the team's underwhelming performance for this game, there is no standout candidate for MoM. But if one is to be chosen for this accolade, the awardee would be the Geylang International captain, who has achieved MoM for the third time running. If not for his saves in the latter part of the second half, the Eagles would have lost by a wider margin.