By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
Reporting from the Jalan Besar Stadium
Following a goalless first half at the Jalan Besar Stadium, up-and-coming Eagles forward Wahyudi Wahid scored what proved to be the winner in the 69th minute when he sent a fine diving header past a hapless Syazwan Buhari.
The result was good enough to take V. Kanan's charges three places up to 8th on the table, but it also meant Young Lions ended the first half of the season with zero points to their name, in what has by far been the worst start by any club to a campaign in S.League history.
Yet despite the fact that they already seem destined to finish bottom of the table as they are a massive 11 points behind 11th-placed Hougang United, Aide Iskandar's young charges have not been nearly as bad as their position suggests.
In recent weeks, they have shown positive signs in valiant defeats to Home United, Harimau Muda and Woodlands Wellington, with a 4-0 defeat to Tanjong Pagar United on April 17 the only real exception.
Again on Friday, they were a side with plenty of endeavour and threatened the opposition goal for the first time in the 6th minute when Sahil Suhaimi raced into the box but could only fire a weak shot straight at Takuma Ito.
Sahil, making only his second appearance of the season, then had an even better chance to open the scoring in the 23rd minute when he was left unmarked inside the area and met a good freekick by Faiz Salleh, only to send a glancing header wide of the mark.
12 minutes later, the 20-year-old once again proved to be Young Lions' main threat as he lined up a freekick on the edge of the box and fired in a firm effort that forced Ito into a smart save at his near post.
Buoyed by their strong display in the opening 45, the hosts continued to push forward after halftime and had another chance in the 51st minute when Shamil Sharif narrowly failed to connect with a cross from four yards out, after Sherif El-Masri had found space down the left and drilled the ball across the face of goal.
Nonetheless, Geylang were also starting to come to life following the break and the usually-lethal Jozef Kaplan looked poised to open the scoring four minutes before the hour mark when he raced down the left and advanced on goal. However, he took just a fraction too long to fire his shot away and allowed Afiq Yunos to make a fine recovering challenge as he was about to pull the trigger.
Six minutes later, Wahyudi was guilty of wasting a gilt-edged chance after an over-the-top ball played from near the halfway line sailed over Kaplan's leap but landed right at his feet. But from eight yards out and on a slightly tight angle, he could only send his shot way over with only Syazwan to beat.
Syazwan, making his first appearance of the season, was then called into his first meaningful action of the game in the 66th minute when he produced a fine save to keep out a rocket of a strike from Kaplan, who had decided to try his luck from the edge of the box after being picked out by Nurhazwan Norasikin's corner.
But just three minutes later, the Eagles' increasingly-adventurous ways paid off as they took the lead; Yasir Hanapi racing down the left and cutting back onto his preferred right foot before floating an inch-perfect cross to pick out the well-timed run of Wahyudi, who made no mistake in sending the ball into the back of the net with his diving header.
Now in possession of the lead, the visitors decided to keep things tight and welcome their opponents push forward, safe in the knowledge that their centre-back partnership of Norihiro Kawakami and Khayrulhayat Jumat were doing well to deny the opposition any real opportunities in and around the area.
For the most part of the closing stages it worked a treat but three minutes of time, a moment of individual brilliance from Stanely Ng saw Young Lions carve out one final attempt at an equaliser. Picking up possession down the left, the substitute did well to skip past two challenges to create a shooting chance for himself but from 25 yards out, he could only send a powerful drive straight at Ito.
Ultimately, it was the Eagles who were left celebrating a hard-earned three points but the Young Lions can once again be proud of the effort they put in on the pitch, even if they are yet to reap the rewards on the table.
Courts Young Lions: Syazwan Buhari, Afiq Noor, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Afiq Yunos, Farhan Rahmat, M. Anumanthan, Raihan Rahman, Shamil Sharif (Stanely Ng 78'), Sahil Suhaimi, Faiz Salleh (Fareez Farhan 55'), Sherif El-Masri (Iqbal Hussain 55').
Geylang International: Takuma Ito, Khairulnizam Jumahat, Khayrulhayat Jumat, Norihiro Kawakami, Delwinder Singh, Yasir Hanapi, Fabian Kwok, Taufiq Ghani (Basil Teo 78'), Jalal (Nurhazwan Norasikin 61'), Jozef Kaplan, Wahyudi Wahid (Andrew Tan 87').
Image courtesy of VOXSPORTS (Darren Ho)