Singapore, March 17: Hougang Stadium proved to be a happy hunting ground no more for Geylang International as they fell 4-1 to Hougang United, who ended a five-match winless streak against the Eagles.
Geylang made two changes from the starting XI that beat Tanjong Pagar 2-1 on Sunday, one of which was enforced with the hamstrung Barry Maguire replaced by Firdaus Kasman in midfield, while Hairul Syirhan took over from Zainol Gulam between the sticks.
The Eagles, who benefited from goalkeeping errors in a 2-1 win in the corresponding fixture last season, were gifted the lead again when Amy Recha’s speculative effort from range was misjudged by Mukundan Maran and trickled into the far post after just four minutes.
However, the Cheetahs responded quickly and equalised six minutes later when Tomoyuki Doi picked up Farhan Zulkifli’s defence-splitting pass to slot past Hairul Syirhan.
After the break, Geylang threw on their foreign strikers – Sylvano Comvalius for his Singapore Premier League debut and Mathues Moresche hoping for a repeat of his two-goal heroics against the Jaguars – but the hosts were the ones who showed their firepower in the second half.
The Eagles will feel aggrieved a handball was not called just outside the Hougang penalty area, before referee Nathan Chan blew for a contentious penalty at the other end after Harith Kanadi was adjudged to have fouled Gilberto Fortunato.
Up stepped Doi to place the resulting spot-kick into the corner to make it 2-1 to Hougang in the 51st minute, and Geylang had Hairul to thank for an instinctive save that prevented Fabian Kwok from extending that lead with a point-blank header 20 minutes later.
But Hougang were not to be denied, as Doi turned provider to first set up Hafiz Sujad’s long-range goal in the 80th minute, and then Fortunato’s stabbed effort three minutes later to compound Geylang’s misery.
A disappointed Eagles coach Noor Ali said: “This was not the result or performance we wanted, although credit to Hougang because they played well.
“The good thing for us is this is only the second game, and we just got to keep on working and stay positive. There is a lot of work to be done, especially in terms of concentration and focus throughout the game.
“There is a lot of attention on Sylvano and Matheus and we know what they can do, but it is not just about them. We need to attack and defend as a team which we didn’t do today, and we have to improve on that.”