The hosts nicked a point right at the death against the Eagles through their French star midfielder, who had missed the previous game due to suspension
Tanjong Pagar United escaped with a point after a 90th-minute strike from the returning Kamel Ramdani earned them a 1-1 draw against a relatively inexperienced Geylang International at Queenstown Stadium on Wednesday night.
An escape it certainly was as Geylang could have beaten the Jaguars 2-0 had a second strike three minutes earlier not been ruled out for offside, a decision that looked quite marginal from the stands.
After losing to bottom dogs Courts Young Lions three days ago, Tanjong Pagar welcomed back French star midfielder Ramdani, who had been suspended for that game.
But suspensions to both K. Vikraman and Ahmad Latiff rather took the gloss off the joy at having Ramdani back.
Geylang blooded two debutants on the night and shuffled their players around in a bid to nullify and frustrate Tanjong Pagar and for the most part, their tactics worked a treat.
Japanese striker Shotaro Ihata was handed his first start in a long while having been used sparingly off the bench for some time, largely due to a lack of form and fitness.
His contribution this time, however, was priceless as he netted his first goal for the club in giving them a 61st-minute lead.
Jalal, who had forced a finger-tip save from goalkeeper Aurelien Herisson moments earlier, took the corner on the right and sent the ball to the near post, where Ihata got his head to it to beat Herisson and a defender stationed on the line.
Jalal was one of several senior players to have big games for Geylang, with Stefan Milojevic another to shine, dropping deep to protect some inexperienced defenders and to lend his considerable skill to the team’s tactic of giving minimum room for the best of the Jaguars’ foreign legion to shine.
Up front Geylang captain Jozef Kaplan lent support to Ihata, with Yasir Hanapi also dropping deep and coach Vedhamuthu Kanan’s plan appeared to have paid dividends right up until the final minute of the game.
Zahid Ahmad, captain for the night in the absence of Walid Lounis, Latiff and Hafiz Osman, swept a ball over from the left as Tanjong Pagar launched one last assault on goal in a game that appeared to have got away from them.
The ball came back in from the right via Hafiz Nor, where it was contested by Ramdani, Monsef Zerka and Ismael Benahmed along with the closest-placed Geylang defenders.
It was Ramdani who managed to shrug his markers aside to line up a shot, driving the ball low past a despairing Takuma Ito in the Geylang goal for a dramatic equaliser.
The lone point, though disappointing, does at least ensure that Tanjong Pagar finish in the top six, though their earlier hopes of finishing in second spot appear to be fading fast.