Both teams came into this game high on confidence following impressive victories in the previous gameweek. Having struggled earlier in the season, Home United finally recorded their first win last week, with a resounding 3-0 victory over Warriors FC.
New signing Oliver Puflett impressed on his debut, leading the line and getting himself on the scoresheet with a cheeky lob after being put through on goal by captain Izzdin Shafiq. Song Ui-young also made a goalscoring return from injury with an emphatic finish into the roof of the net after some impressive play down Home's left-hand side.
Young Lions pulled of a shock result against title contenders Hougang United, winning 2-1 last weekend. The defence stifled The Cheetahs attacking duo of Faris Ramli and Stipe Plazibat, widely regarded as the best offensive partnership in the league. Saifullah Akbar impressed for Young Lions, and deservedly netted the winner.
Two goals within the first 10 minutes
With both teams having impressed last time out, they came into this game flying out of the blocks, looking to capitalise on their recent form. Home were ahead as early as the sixth minute. Izzdin Shafiq received the ball at the edge of the box, and bamboozled Jacob Mahler with some nifty footwork, leaving the Young Lions midfielder sat on the pitch on his backside.
Afforded too much time and space, Izzdin looked up, and picked out the top corner of Zharfan Rohaizad’s goal with all the class and composure in the world. It was a stunning effort that had the Home United fans on their feet, and Home looked to have seized the early advantage and momentum in the game.
However, Young Lions found themselves back on equal footing just two minutes later. A poor clearance from the Home defense left them exposed at the back, and the ball was whipped in towards the far post.
Young Lions captain Joshua Pereira impressed throughout the match with both his technical and aerial ability, and he found the equalizer for his team in the eighth minute. Faritz Hameed was caught ball watching as Joshua made a late run and ghosted in behind Faritz to meet the ball with a firm header, leaving Nazri Sabri with no chance.
Home still lack cutting edge
Having been pegged back, Home fought hard to create chances to retake the lead. A deep cross that evaded everyone found Aqhari Abdullah at the far post, but he had to stretch to make a connection, and ended up bundling the ball over.
Following several more missed chances, Home finally took the lead in the 40th minute. A well worked move down the left hand side saw Puflett whip in a teasing ball that Adam poked into the net from point blank range, making it 2-1 to The Protectors just before the break.
Home came out of the dressing room for the second half looking to seal the win, and could have added to their tally if not for their poor final ball. Afforded plenty of space by Young Lions, with Mahler and Lionel Tan struggling against the directness and aggression of Home’s frontline, Home wasted several chances to extend their lead.
Puflet was guilty on several occasions of holding onto the ball for too long, with substitute Song desperately calling for it up ahead. Twice Puflet took too much time to bring the ball under control and release it to Song, who by then had already strayed into an offside position.
Even as the game drew to a close, Home continued to attack, instead of sitting back to defend their lead. Song put fellow substitute Hafiz Nor through on goal, and Hafiz looked to have scored only to see his shot crash off the upright.
In the last minute, Puflett once again found himself free, with Song up ahead. An intelligent run by Song saw him stay onside this time round, but Puflett was far too casual, and overhit his pass into the arms of a grateful Zharfan.
After the game, Home coach Saswadimata Dasuki acknowledged the need for his team to be more clinical, while Puflett cited the need to adapt to Singapore’s heat and humidity as the reason behind his struggles.
Young Lions will look to bounce back from a disappointing performance next time out, while Home will hope that they become more lethal in front of goal even if it did not cost them this time round, lest they be punished for their poor finishing in future.