Boston City FC went to-to-toe with the number one-ranked team among the 91 clubs in the National Premier Soccer League and albeit while living dangerously at times, only succumbed to a 3-1 defeat to the New York Cosmos 14 minutes from time.

The Lions relied heavily on the shot-stopping prowess of keeper Jason Katz, who was left exposed for the first two Cosmos goals. The hosts looked more threatening when mounting attacks than they have throughout an all too lackluster season.

Sweeping changes brought in three new faces in midfield trio Pablo Guimaraes, Geovane Silva and Joao Godeiro, while Avner Alves and Tommaso D’Agostino were paired at the heart of defense for the first time.

Joint top-scorer John Dumbuya returned after a one-match absence but had to be content with a place on the bench, as did fellow forward Rigoberto Jimenez and industrious midfielder Mateus Araujo as fresh faces were introduced.

The Lions pressed early on but were pegged back after 13 minutes when a long throw-in caught the defense napping and presented a chance for a scuffed Ricardo Boganegra finish to creep agonizingly past Katz and just slip in at the far post.

Typically, Boston City have caved in this year when presented with such a setback but two minutes later were level. Francisco Neto played a long ball upfield from left back and Hugo Bomfim, who had been hauled up when offside on an earlier play, beat the trap this time and coolly slotted home the equalizer.

The home celebration lasted only two minutes as a low cross from the left by Darwin Espinal was met by Boganegra, whose initial finish was parried by Katz but he pounced to net the rebound before a home defender could clear.

Godeiro, who played five matches for Boston City in the club’s inaugural 2016 season, whistled a shot just over the cross bar and Jhonata Batista saw a shot well parried by Justin Corke but before halftime it was again Katz who had to come to the rescue. His first half highlight was two saves in rapid succession, first to block Charlie Pedula and then force away the rebound shot by Espinal.

Batista fired into the side-netting as the second half pace matched that of the first, while Pedro Galvao drilled a low 20-yarder against the foot of the home post and Katz had to respond to hold a shot from Emmanuele Sambroni from the resulting corner.

The Lions were tiring while searching for an equalizer and the Cosmos sealed three points and a ninth straight win as Espinal scored off the underside of the cross bar from close range off the supply of Boganegra.

Neto almost stole what would have been more a consolation than cause to think a late comeback might be possible four minutes from time when he forced Corke into a save low to his left.

One negative for Boston City was that forwards Batista and Jimenez both picked up their fourth yellow cards of the season, meaning they are suspended for Saturday’s trip to Kingston Stockade.