There was hunger, desire and goals as Geylang International produced the response their coach Noor Ali demanded after being beaten 8-0 by Lion City Sailors last weekend.
However, after coming from behind twice to level the match, a third equaliser proved a bridge too far as the Eagles were edged 3-2 by Tampines Rovers at Our Tampines Hub.
Influential Dutch midfielder Barry Maguire was welcomed back into the Geylang starting XI after missing five games due to a hamstring injury, but his compatriot, striker Sylvano Comvalius fell victim to the same ailment and Brazilian forward Matheus Moresche was trusted to lead the line.
The 22-year-old took less than a minute to make his presence felt, but just could not squeeze in the opener after Syazwan Buhari misjudged Amy Recha’s corner.
The duo then linked up well to set up Maguire, whose volley flew narrowly over the bar nine minutes later. Geylang goalkeeper Zainol Gulam then made the first of many top-drawer saves when he made a flying save to deny Boris Kopitovic’s goal-bound header in the 21st minute, and the offside flag voided Zehrudin Mehmedovic’s effort in the next minute after Kyoga Nakamura hit the post.
However, the Eagles went behind in the 33rd minute after Ichikawa was adjudged to have fouled Mehmedovic in the box, and the Serb tucked home the resulting penalty.
Their injury curse would continue as Nur Luqman was stretchered off in the 35th minute as they withstood the rest of the first half with 10 men before he was replaced by Christopher van Huizen.
Noor Ali’s men came flying out of the traps again in the second half, and Syazwan made a good save from Moresche’s header less than two minutes in.
Geylang’s top scorer clinically made it 1-1 in the 50th minute when he tucked in Maguire’s inspired pass. But a lack of focus meant they once again conceded shortly after scoring, as Kopitovic finished off Mehmedovic’s pass in the next minute.
A beautiful chipped pass from Izzdin set up Moresche’s second of the night and fourth of the season in the 68th minute, and Zainol raised hopes of ending a three-match losing skid when he saved from Irfan Najeeb, Madhu Mohana and Nakamura in quick succession.
But it was not to be, as Armin Bosnjak’s cut back found Taufik Suparno, who smashed in the 80th-minute winner.
Noor Ali said: “This was our best game in recent weeks. We were not ourselves in the last three matches but today we played well and gave Tampines a game.
“But we cannot be defending like this every game. We have been giving away easy goals to opponents. We can score two goals, but if we concede three, we are making things very difficult for ourselves.”
Lineup: Zainol Gulam; Darren Teh, Yuki Ichikawa, Faizal Roslan, Harith Kanadi,; Nur Luqman (Christopher van Huizen 46), Elijah Lim (Izzdin Shafiq 46), Barry Maguire, Firdaus Kasman, Amy Recha (Iqram Rifqi 81); Matheus Moresche