Despite outstanding saves from Garena Young Lions custodian Zharfan Rohaizad, second-half goals by Geylang International FC forwards Stanely Ng and Shawal Anuar gave the away side a 0-2 win at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.
The Zharfan show started in the 13th minute, as he recovered in time to prevent Victor Coto’s ambitious 50-yard lob from going in.
Two minutes later, the 20-year-old pulled off a stunning reflex save to deny Ricardo Sendra’s goal-bound header from Coto’s cross.
On the 25th minute, it was Zharfan at the forefront again as he turned Sendra’s snapshot around the post.
The Young Lions grew in confidence towards the end of the first half and almost scored on two occasions.
First, wide-man Muhaimin Suhaimi lashed over the bar after collecting Hami Syahin’s slide-rule pass.
Then, Jordan Chan broke free via a neat drag-back, but his pass was slightly too heavy for Muhelmy Suhaimi to convert in the six-yard box.
The second half resumed with Zharfan doing his thing again with a good fingertip save to deny Ng after the latter was put through on goal by Shahfiq Ghani.
Young Lions then had a couple of good moments in attack, but were just let down by a lack of final product.
Zharfan was finally beaten in the 64th minute, with Ng tapping home from close range after the keeper had parried Sendra’s 20-yard shot into his path.
Young Lions coach V. Selvaraj brought on Taufik Suparno for Chan thereafter to chase the game, but the Eagles doubled their advantage in the 75th minute.
Substitute Shawal Anuar latched onto goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari’s long punt, got past Zharfan and evaded another defender’s attentions before firing into an empty net.
The home side had a chance to pull one back eight minutes before the end when Hami Syahin’s lofted ball put Taufik through on goal, but the latter was denied by Syazwan in a one-on-one opportunity.
Garena Young Lions Head Coach V. Selvaraj felt that the team created good chances in the last five minutes of the first half, and “should have buried one of them if we had more composure in front of goal”.
On their performance in the second half, he commented: “In the second half, we got higher up the pitch, were more confident on the ball and penetrated their defence more. We also made good substitutions which offered more speed, but we were not able to finish the chances off.
“The good thing is that we’re competing now, the boys believe in themselves more. Now we just have to keep working and do the right things to win the next match.”
Garena Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Rusyaidi Salime, Amirul Adli, Shahrin Saberin (C), Syahrul Sazali, Ryan Syaffiq, Hami Syahin, Muhelmy Suhaimi (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 72’), Muhaimin Suhaimi, Ammirul Emmran, Jordan Chan (Taufik Suparno 65’)