Protectors Edge Young Lions To Go Second
Written by: Darren Ho
Home United strengthened their hold on second position in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League after a 2-1 victory against a valiant Garena Young Lions side at Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday.
A first-half goal by Stipe Plazibat, and a tap-in finish from Khairul Nizam put the Protectors well ahead, before Muhaimin Suhaimi provided a revival for the Young Lions at the hour mark.
Home eventually sealed all three points, despite an outstanding display from several key individuals in the Young Lions side.
This marks Home’s sixth win of the S.League season and a turnaround from their 3-2 defeat to Tampines Rovers last week, which ended their unbeaten streak this campaign.
It was also the first competitive match as head coach for the Young Lions’ Richard Tardy since replacing the outgoing V Selvaraj, and the ex-Warriors FC midfielder would be pleased with how his players rewarded the faith of their new coach.
The opening period was a war of attrition for defenders who had to repel each other’s attacking prods and probes inside ten minutes.
Home came closest to breaking the deadlock in the seventh minute when Faris Ramli was brought down in the 12-yard box, winning himself a penalty.
The joy however was short lived as the Young Lions goalkeeper Hairul Syirhan guessed the right way to claw away the Singapore International’s spot kick with confidence.
The resilient host would continue to chase down and press with energy and pace in the later stages but just couldn’t get the final touches for an equaliser they crave for.
Despite setting their stall out to contain the Protectors, the Young Lions had gone behind after 13 minutes.
Nizam was the provider as he drilled past several defenders on the right flank before releasing Plazibat in the penalty box for a tap-in finish.
However, the Young Lions kept their cool and knocked the ball around sweetly to create aplenty of chances on their own.
Dhukhilan Jeevamani sent his free kick low before Hami Sayhin broke through the Home’s defence with some slick pass-and-move skills, only for his shot to be denied by Rudy Khairullah at his near post.
Muhaimin’s precise deep cross from the corner was headed swiftly by Amirul Adli in the 20th minute, but once again, Rudy was well prepared to keep the ball out to safety.
Home finished the half on the front foot, but could have doubled the lead.
Hariss Harun drove the ball deep to unlock the Young Lions defence, making a glorious pass to Nizam who unselfishly rounded the defender and raked a pass to Adam Swandi who squandered his chance.
Nizam did score the Protector’s second of the night when teammate Faris made a rapid passing move to the 26-year-old to slot home the finish from six-yards.
Just as Home was about to kill the game, there were a few hearts in mouths when Hairul sprawled in on Plazibat’s shot in a one-on-one challenge after the Croatian beat past a sliding tackle from Amirul in the box.
The hosts replied with a goal ten minutes later when Muhelmy rifled his venomous strike from long range into the net to half the deficit, sparking wild scenes of elation among the players, staff and their supporters.
Home continued to look dangerous, emboldened by their the lead. Nizam blazed a shot high and wide when he broke into the box as Hariss found plenty of space to find the winger.
The Protectors turned the screw in the closing stages and brought on Juma'at Jantan and Song Uiyoung to take control of the proceedings.
Plazibat could have scored a brace, but his bullish free-kick was guided off the right top corner of the crossbar, ending the game with just a one-goal cushion.
Garena Young Lions Head Coach Richard Tardy: “It was a good performance, even though we are disappointed because we couldn’t score enough.
“We gave too many opportunities to our opponents and because of our poor positioning, we conceded the first goal where Nizam was able to dribble past three of our players.
“But we don’t resign, we continued to play and scored our goal, we showed good character as a team which played really well and stronger. We showed that we can play long ball and in the build up and our style of play is good for the near future as we prepare for the SEA Games.”
Home United Head Coach Aidil Sharin: “We have to give credit to the Young Lions. They have worked very hard, they have pressed us and given us a tough time.
“It was a good game with lots of chances, but we should have finish off the match before it was 2-1. However, the most important thing is our three points.
“We needed to recover well from our mid-week AFC match and we knew that playing in an artificial pitch was not going to be easy, so I needed to know how to managed my players well.”
“It’s good to get back on winning ways, but our next match against Brunei DPMM isn’t going to be easy, so our goal is to collect another three points to stay atop with Albirex.”
Garena Young Lions: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Amirul Adli (C), Dhukhilan Jeevamani (Syahrul Sazali 82’), Faizal Roslan, Rusyaidi Salime, Illyas Lee (Joshua Bernard Pereira 68’), Hami Syahin, Muhaimin Suhaimi, Haiqal Pashia, Muhelmy Suhaimi, Taufik Suparno (Ikhsan Fandi 74’)
Home United:Rudy Khairullah (GK), Irfan Fandi (C), Sufianto Salleh (Juma'at Jantan 69’) , Abdil Qaiyyim, Hariss Harun, Haziq Azman (Amiruldin Asraf 69’) , Shamil Sharif, Adam Swandi, Faris Ramli, Khairul Nizam (Song Uiyoung 81’) , Stipe Plazibat