Garena Young Lions kept Geylang International FC scoreless in the first half of their Great Eastern Hyundai S.League match on Sunday night at Jalan Besar Stadium, but conceded two goals in the final 25 minutes to be edged 2-1.
The Eagles had to wait until after the hour mark to find the breakthrough via an Amy Recha penalty before Costa Rican forward Victor Coto doubled the advantage.
Amirul Adli pulled a goal back for the Young Lions, but it was too late for the team.
Geylang International FC started brightly, with both Shawal Anuar and Gabriel Quak having chances but firing their shots off-target.
Shawal then found space to drive in a good ball from the right, but Shahfiq Ghani’s resulting header was too weak to trouble Young Lions custodian Zharfan Rohaizad.
Young Lions started to find their feet midway through the first period and could have broken the deadlock on 28 minutes when Taufik Suparno broke clear, but the no. 9 was denied by a block by Geylang International FC defender Anders Aplin.
Young Lions returned for the second half with much vigour as Rusyaidi Salime was unlucky to see his 30-yard free kick crash off the crossbar on 50 minutes.
Zharfan then pulled off a stunning save to turn Ricardo Sendra’s free kick around for a corner.
Amy was brought on in the 65th minute to replace Stanely Ng, who suffered an injury just five minutes after replacing Shahfiq on the hour mark.
The Eagles scored their first goal of the night two minutes later after Gabriel earned a penalty, with Amy slotting home from 12 yards out. The second goal came nine minutes later with Coto expertly volleying home from close range from Quak’s teasing inswinging cross from the right.
The Young Lions fought back well and halved the deficit in the 82nd minute with Amirul’s header creeping home after his initial attempt off Hami Syahin’s corner was blocked by Faritz Hameed.
Richard Tardy’s men almost levelled it up five minutes later, but substitute Ikhsan Fandi could only volley over after Amirul had knocked on Hami’s free kick.
Garena Young Lions Head Coach Richard Tardy said: “I’m really proud of the performance. We had an average age of 20.3 but we challenged well against an experienced team. Although we conceded two, we continued to fight and could have equalised.
“I feel a draw should have been a fairer result tonight. People say playing against us is easy, but we did well against Warriors FC, Brunei DPMM with 0-0 draws and only lost to Tampines in the last minute. We must continue to focus and play well in our next matches.”
Garena Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Rusyaidi Salime (Ryan Syaffiq 84’), Illyas Lee, Amirul Adli, Shahrin Saberin (C), Faizal Roslan, Dhukhilan Jeevamani (Syahrul Sazali 80’), Hami Syahin, Muhelmy Suhaimi, Taufik Suparno, Jordan Chan (Ikhsan Fandi 65’)