Geylang International coach Noor Ali had a 46th birthday to forget as they suffered another three-goal defeat by Hougang United as they lost 5-2 at Our Tampines Hub.
Worryingly, poor defending has been a recurring theme for the Eagles, and despite Fareez Farhan blazing over in the opening minute, the hosts were carved open by the Cheetahs’ swift and incisive counterattacks.
Sanders Saurajen kept his place in the Geylang goal and had already made a good save to stop Tomoyuki Doi in the 16th minute, but he was powerless to stop the Japanese from diverting in Idraki Adnan’s cut-back 12 minutes later for the opener.
Doi returned the favour to set up the 22-year-old Singaporean in the 36th minute to make it 2-0.
The Eagles were stung into action and responded with Fareez and Amy Recha going close before half-time.
Saurajen had to be stretchered off and replaced by Zainol Gulam four minutes following the restart after he rushed off his line bravely to deny Doi, and Amy was unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty soon after when he was kicked by Maksat Dzhakybaliev in the box.
Afiq Noor swept in to make it three when Zainol spilt Doi’s shot in the 66th minute and old boy Shawal Anuar compounded his former side’s misery when he slotted in Idraki’s square ball six minutes later.
The industrious Amy got the consolation goal he deserved when he met Sylvano Comvalius’ pull-back in the 86th minute, before the Dutchman scored a delightful volley inside added time.
But the final word still belonged to Hougang, when Shahril Ishak set up Doi to score his 13th goal of the season.
With his team still searching for their first clean sheet in 10 games, having already conceded 29 goals, Noor Ali said: “We created an equal number of opportunities and had 16 shots each, but Hougang took their chances well and we didn’t convert.
“We gave away too many easy goals this season, and this game is another example of bad defending from us. When you have quality opponents like Doi, half chances can become goals. We didn’t handle him well on one-versus-one situations and that cost us the game.
“It has been a rough season for us so far, but we will keep working and trying to improve.”
Lineup: Sanders Saurajen (Zainol Gulam 49); Darren Teh, Yuki Ichikawa, Faizal Roslan, Harith Kanadi (Christopher van Huizen 46); Izzdin Shafiq, Elijah Lim, Firdaus Kasman; Amy Recha, Matheus Moresche, Fareez Farhan (Sylvano Comvalius 46)