Geylang International could not build on their impressive victory over Brunei DPMM as they were on the receiving end of a humiliating loss to Albirex Niigata on Saturday evening (April 1).
While the Eagles could claim the scalp of being the second side this season to have scored past a mean White Swans defence, their out-of-sorts backline - coupled with a lack of a commanding goalkeeper between the sticks - let them down as they faltered under their opponents' relentless attacks.
Since the start of the campaign, the wingback positions have been nothing but headaches for coach Noor Ali as he is not able to field the same players in those two spots consistently. Against his Japanese rivals, Noor once again tinkered with his team selection when he surprisingly called up an unfit Fadli Kamis, who just returned from a long injury layoff, at the expense of Faisal Shahril.
Albirex Niigata were happy to exploit the vulnerabilities in those defensive wide areas and the early signs of a torrid night for Geylang International were on display when their local lad, Nicky Melvin Singh, was able to run riot down his right channel.
In fact, Singh helped his adopted Japanese club to the opener in the 8th minute when his pass from the right found Seia Kunori, who then threaded the ball to Tadanari Lee for a close-range finish.
To the credit of the men in green, they did stun the defending league champions with a deflected right-footed strike by Yushi Yamaya that brought so much joy to the Ultras Eagles. With the Eagles then holding a slender one-point lead over the White Swans in third, it looked like the hosts were able to grind a result against their bigger rivals and preserve their lofty league ranking.
Sadly, that was not to be as the fallen Singaporean giants made a mess out of their set-piece defending at the stroke of half time which saw Koki Kawachi striking the ball at the near post after a goalmouth scramble.
Still the attending Ultras Eagles were clutching on to slim hopes that their beloved squad were able to turn around the game, as they had done against Young Lions and Hougang United in recent weeks.
But those dreams were dashed soon after the break when another error from the back resulted in half-time substitute Shuto Komaki scoring Albirex Niigata's third.
With broken spirits and tired legs from the home side, there was no way back from then on as further goals from Riku Fukashiro, Keito Komatsu, and Kunori condemned Geylang International to their heaviest defeat thus far in the campaign.
Man of the match: Ultras Eagles - Despite the late-night kickoff and the match clashing with English Premier League fixtures, the diehard supporters knew where their hearts and souls ought to lie as they turned up at the Eagles Nest to support their beloved club. As goals were raining down on Geylang International's net especially in the second half, kudos to this group of passionate fans who had to put on a brave face throughout the game and cheer their team on till the final whistle.