SINGAPORE - It is not often that a team lose a match by three goals, and can still count themselves lucky.
That was how Geylang International must have felt, after going down 3-0 to Tampines Rovers in their Great Eastern- Yeo's S.League encounter at the Clementi Stadium on Sunday night.
V Kanan's charges fell to their third loss in as many games, but it could have been so much worse had the champions been more ruthless in front of goal.
"We were lucky not to concede more goals, but our backline has been weakened by injuries, and it has really taken its toll," said Kanan, after the game.
Geylang had to do without the injured trio of Yuki Ichikawa, Kento Fukuda and Fabian Kwok, with goalkeeper Siddiq Durimi stepping out from between the sticks and into central defence.
"Zero points from three games is not good, but we have had (to face) three tough away games in a row," Kanan added, pointing to their first two fixtures against Warriors FC (2-1) and Home United (4-1).
The Stags took advantage of Geylang's makeshift defence, taking just 16 minutes to score through Miljan Mrdakovic.
Geylang goalkeeper Joey Sim spilled the ball at the top of his penalty box in the 30th minute, presenting Luis Closa the simple task of stroking the ball into an unguarded net for the home side's second on the night.
Aleksandar Duric added the third three minutes before the break, although it did not signal the opening of the floodgates, as any had expected.
A combination of good goalkeeping from Sim and poor Tampines decision- making saw the Stags squander no less than seven chances in front of goal, including one that saw Duric shoot straight at Sim when he had three teammates inside the box facing a sole Geylang defender.
With the win, Tampines joined Brunei DPMM on nine points, but are second in the table on goal difference.
"I'm definitely disappointed that there were only three goals scored. Goal difference could be important (at the end of the season) and I'm disappointed that we missed some sitters," said Tampines coach Salim Moin.
"(Besides the number of goals) it was an excellent performance, the boys played according to the game plan."
There was more joy for Salim, who gave a debut to his new acquisition from the Warriors, Abdil Qaiyyim, with the defender turning in an assured performance.
Tampines travel to Brunei for a tasty top-of-the-table clash on Sunday, after hosting India's Pune FC in the AFC Cup on Wednesday.
Geylang will face the Courts Young Lions - the two teams who share the worst defensive record in the league with nine goals conceded - on Thursday, with Kanan desperate for his Eagles side to chalk up their first points of the season.
"When you perform badly, the heat is on, and need to get points against the Young Lions," he said. "Sometimes coaches need luck, and it seems that I'm running out of luck this time."
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