Eagles’ flight stalled in narrow loss to champions Albirex

Despite making significant improvements from their 1-1 draw against the Young Lions before the international break, Geylang International just could not make their chances count as they lost 1-0 to defending Singapore Premier League champions Albirex Niigata at Jurong East.

The Eagles actually started the match the brighter of the two teams and took just 10 minutes to fashion the first good chance of the game.  Fareez Farhan, making his first start of the season, whipped in a good corner which Faizal Roslan managed to get on the end of, only to see his header come off team-mate Elijah Lim.

The visitors were punished for their profligacy in the 33rd minute. Incidentally, Geylang were enjoying a good spell of passing football when Kiyoshiro Tsuboi won over possession for Albirex and fed Takahiro Tezuka, who clinically slotted past Zainol Gulam.

Geylang coach Noor Ali decided to go for broke early, throwing on forwards Mattheus Moresche and Amy Recha at the start of the second half before introducing Christopher van Huizen later on as well.

Both teams had decent opportunities to score, but couldn’t change the scoreline as Albirex went on to notch their third clean sheet in four games while Geylang are still searching for their first. Izzdin Shafiq’s free-kick was knocked down by Moresche, but Eagles skipper Yuki Ichikawascuffed his volley in the 51st minute. Three minutes later, a nice interplay involving Ong Yu En and Ryoya Taniguchi ended with Albirex captain Kazuki Hashioka shooting wide with the goal at his mercy.

In the next minute, Moresche did well to win the ball and start Geylang’s own flowing move with Fareez and Sylvano Comvalius before the Brazilian dragged his shot wide. Zainol then had to be on his toes to make a top save to keep out Taniguchi’s fierce shot in the 67th minute.

But ultimately, the Eagles can count themselves unlucky not to get at least a point out of this fixture as Comvalius slipped just as he was about to latch on to Izzdin’s long ball and run clear in the 79th minute. Referee Zulfiqar Mustaffa also failed to wave play on after an Albirex foul in added time despite Geylang having possession in a more advanced position.

Noor Ali said: “Our performance was much better than in our previous two games, as we picked up a bit and created quite a few chances.

“The game was quite even, I don’t think they threatened us that much so I tried to attack more and go for the equaliser and even the win, but we just could not put the ball in the net. We need our strikers to finish off our chances, which proved to be the difference in a game like this today.”

After picking up just one point in their last three games, Geylang slip to sixth in the eight-team league with four points from four games.

They will attempt to snap the winless run when they take on Balestier Khalsa, who are just above them with a point more, at Toa Payoh on Wednesday.