(HOM: Lee Kwan-woo 73′)
Lee Kwan-woo came off the bench to become Home United’s match-winner for the second game running after helping them to a 1-0 win over Balestier Khalsa in the Great Eastern-YEO’s S.League on Friday.
Reporting from the Jalan Besar Stadium
After being introduced at the start of the second half, the ex-Korea Republic international found the breakthrough in the 73rd minute, picking up possession just inside the box before placing his shot past a hapless Zaiful Nizam.
His match-winning display came just four days after he did the same against Tampines Rovers, netting twice after being introduced at the break to hand his side a 2-0 win over the champions at the Bishan Stadium.
The Protectors certainly missed their talismanic playmaker in the first half as it was Balestier who enjoyed the better of the proceedings, although neither side were able to carve out a clear-cut opening for much of the period.
The first real chance came three minutes after the half-hour mark when a lovely first touch by Qiu Li saw him take Kim Min-ho’s pass into his stride, but he could only screw his 20-yard effort wide of the far post.
Two minutes later, Home failed to capitalise on an error by Zaiful Nizam as he completely missed his attempt to claim Sirina Camara’s inswinging corner; Syed Thaha reacting quickest to clear the ball off the line before any opposition players could pounce.
But five minutes before the break, they did manage to put the ball into the back of the net when Jordan Webb headed home on the rebound after his initial shot was parried by Zaiful from point-blank range, only for the strike to be chalked off for offside.
Eight minutes into the second half, it was the Tigers’ turn to threaten when Tengku Mushadad’s freekick into the box found Park Kang-jin completely unmarked, but he went for placement instead of power and saw his volley pushed to safety by Shahril Jantan.
By now, Lee had already been introduced into the game and he created a chance for Song Ui-young in the 64th minute after good hold-up play outside the area, only for his compatriot to fire way over.
Nonetheless, nine minutes later, the former Suwon Bluewings captain delivered the goods for Home when he latched onto Firdaus Idros’ right-wing cross and took his time to steady, before clinically firing into the bottom corner.
Balestier did have one final chance to salvage a share of the spoils in the 87th minute when Qiu’s deep corner found Park Kang-jin at the far post, but the midfielder could only send his volley into the sidenetting.
And to add insult to injury, the designated hosts ended the game with ten men after Zulkiffli Hassim received a straight red in added time after kicking out at Webb.
The result was enough to see the Protectors reclaim second spot from Albirex Niigata (S) while Balestier remain fourth, ahead of Woodlands Wellington on goal difference.
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam, Poh Yi Feng, Obadin Aikhena, Paul Cuningham, Syed Thaha, Ridwan Jamil, Tengku Mushadad, Park Kang-jin, Kim Min-ho (Suria Prakash 84’), Hamqaamal Shah (Zulkiffli Hassim 59’), Qiu Li.
Home United: Shahril Jantan, Ismail Yunos, Noh Rahman (Lee Kwan-woo 46’), Sirina Camara, Juma’at Jantan (Nor Azli Yusoff 85’), Kwon Da-kyung, Song Ui-young, Firdaus Idros, Hafiz Rahim, Jordan Webb, Masrezwan Masturi (Sevki Sha’ban 58’).