Geylang International are now just a point behind fourth-placed Hougang United after pulling off a strong 2-1 comeback win against Warriors FC at Bedok Stadium on Friday night.
All three goals came in the second half, after a frustrating first 45 minutes for Geylang. The Eagles created at least four clear-cut chances in front of goal, but found Warriors goalkeeper Yazid Yasin in imperious form.
The pick of the bunch was a stunning reflex save to tip over Sahil Suhaimi’s close-range toe-poke on the stroke of half time.
The Eagles continued to be denied after the restart, with Shahfiq Ghani’s 25-yard free kick on 50 minutes coming back off the right-hand post before bouncing to safety.
The Warriors went on to show them how it should be done two minutes later, with rare starter Fazli Jaffar firing an exquisite volley into the bottom right corner via cousin Ridhuan Muhammad’s looping right-wing cross.
The game was then halted for an hour due to inclement weather and the unexpected break handed the initiative to Geylang.
Eagles coach Hasrin Jailani made some tactical switches, which includes throwing on Mark Hartmann to form a three-pronged attack with Amy Recha and Sahil.
The home side kept piling on the pressure and were finally rewarded for their endeavours in the 73rd minute.
From a superb inswinging corner played in by Sahil, Amy did well to rise above a sea of bodies to head the equaliser past Yazid.
Things got even better for Geylang four minutes later, with creator turning goal scorer as Sahil curled home a superb free-kick from just outside the area to cap off the turnaround.
The Warriors then spurned a gilt-edged opportunity to restore parity six minutes before the end, with French hitman Jonathan Behe somehow volleying over from two yards out after being found by Fazli’s cross.
The game eventually ended 2-1 in favour of Geylang, with Warriors coach Razif Onn lamenting his side’s defensive lapses.
“We were controlling the game well, even though Geylang have so many good attackers,” said the 62-year-old. “But like I mentioned, you cannot afford to have lapses in football.
“The two goals came in a space of four minutes and that’s not unacceptable. I don’t blame the one-hour break because it affected both teams. It was more because of our lack of concentration and the way we set up for set pieces.
On the other hand, victorious counterpart Hasrin was in buoyant mood with the result putting his team level on points with Home and just one point behind Hougang.
The trio are currently vying to finish as the second-highest local team, which ensures qualification for next season’s Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.
“That long break was a lifeline given to us; we had time to regroup and change our formation,” said the former Singapore international. “We threw three upfront and thankfully it worked for us.
“We knew that a draw is not good and a loss would put us as good as out of the equation to qualify for AFC Cup.
“Now we just need to focus on ourselves and it’s good that we’re facing Hougang and Home next; it’s a straightforward equation for us in terms of what we need to do.”