Hougang end Geylang's unbeaten run in spectacular fashion
It was billed as the battle of the dark horses and when it was all said and done on Thursday evening at the Hougang Stadium, it was Hougang who came back from behind to gallop away with a sensational 3-1 victory.
In the process, the hosts also finally derailed the Geylang International's unbeaten start to the season while the result also meant that the hosts would go up to second in the S.League table, just a point behind Tampines Rovers.
A game which had all the hallmarks of a game of two halves took some time to get going after an edgy opening which saw both sides failing to get any meaningful possession.
The Eagles would be the first side to settle down with Gabriel Quak, Amy Recha and Sahil Suhaimi looking lively in attack.
In fact, it was Sahil's wizardry that helped the Eagles to break the deadlock in the 15th minute after the former LionsXII forward was brought down in the box by Fumiya Kogure.
Carlos Delgado stepped up and duly converted the resulting penalty against his former side for his third goal of the season.
The Eagles could have added to the scoreline but Sahil and Quak would squander their chances before the half-time whistle.
When the second half resumed, Hougang looked a totally different side.
Their renewed verve and vigour paid dividends when a swift attack down the left flank by Kogure was halted by Daniel Bennett, albeit illegally according to referee Sukhbir Singh, who had no qualms in pointing to the spot in the 53rd minute.
Stipe Plazibat stepped up and sent goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari the wrong way to level matters.
Hougang pressed on for the winner, one which they would find from a well-worked set piece opportunity on the hour mark.
Kogure's in-swinging corner was thumped home by Faiz Salleh, sending the home crowd into delirium.
The best goal of the night however was reserved for the end as Raihan Rahman put the icing on the Hougang cake with a 88th minute pile-driver from just inside the box.
Hougang coach K. Balagumaran revealed after the match that he was sure his side would fight its way back despite going down initially.
He said : "I told them at half-time that we just needed to keep focused on the game plan.
"We are a fitter team than Geylang and the players here want to achieve something for Hougang and they showed the desire today."
Meanwhile, Eagles' coach Hasrin Jailani was crestfallen after his side's first defeat in seven matches this season.
"I told them we will lose one day but what is important now is that I want them to come back stronger," said Hasrin.
"What we are going to do is rectify our mistakes like giving away needless fouls and being able to finish our chances."
Photo: Hon Tin Seng