By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
Reporting from the Bishan Stadium
Although they had the lion's share of the possession in the first half, the Protectors were unable to convert their dominance into goals and were made to pay in the 68th minute when a horrible gaffe by goalkeeper Jang Hong-won saw him let a long-range freekick by Rosman Sulaiman bounce all the way into the back of the net.
Four minutes later, Rams marquee signing Khalid Hamdaoui doubled their tally with a terrific 25-yard strike to wrap up the win for his side, although the match then turned ugly in the closing stages as Woodlands striker Moon Soon-ho and Home duo Indra Sahdan Daud and Masato Fukui all received their marching orders.
Having seen his side fall to a 2-1 defeat to Albirex Niigata (S) just four days ago, Home coach Lee Lim-saeng opted to make one change to his starting XI by replacing Firdaus Idros with Indra, who had come off the bench to score last Friday.
Just three minutes in, Indra nearly got Home off to a flying start as he narrowly failed to make contact with a freekick from Lee Kwan-woo, who had drilled a dangerous low cross into the six-yard box.
Eight minutes later, the Protectors had an even better chance to open the scoring when Masrezwan Masturi, breaking free down the right after an incisive pass from Hafiz Rahim, centred the ball to an unmarked Fukui. With his first touch, the Japanese striker pushed the ball past the onrushing Yazid Yasin but just as he looked set to fire into an unguarded net, Shariff Samat dispossessed him just before the line and cleared the danger.
With the hosts firmly in the ascendancy, it took Woodlands until the 25th minute before they managed to threaten Jang's goal; Goh Swee Swee curling a delightful freekick around the wall only to see it smash into the sidenetting.
But apart from that one chance, Home continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides and carved out another opening four minutes later when Sirina Camara broke free down the left and drilled in a shot that Yazid could only parry back into the danger zone. Thankfully for the visitors, Rosman was alert to the threat and booted the ball clear before the waiting Fukui could pounce.
12 minutes after the break, another excellent dead-ball delivery from Lee threatened to carve Woodlands apart as he drilled a freekick straight to Ismail Yunos, but the ex-Gombak United man could only diver the ball straight at Yazid with a clever flick.
It seemed only a matter of time before the Protectors found the breakthrough but shortly after the hour mark, Woodlands issued a warning sign when Hamdaoui twice picked out Moon inside the area with intelligent passes, although the South Korean was unable to keep his shot on target on both occasions.
But in the 68th minute, the visitors were handed the opening goal when Rosman, returning to the Bishan Stadium for the first time since leaving the club in the off-season, lined up a freekick from just inside his own half and booted it into the opposition box. Jang, who had charged off his line with real intent, looked odds on to reach the ball but he inexplicably missed his punch, allowing it to bounce past him and into the unguarded net.
Furious at the manner in which his custodian had gifted their opponents the lead, Lee immediately hauled Jang off for the experienced Shahril Jantan, but just four minutes coming on, his first contribution was to pick the ball out of the back of the net after Hamdaoui doubled Woodlands' lead with a stunning strike.
Picking up possession down the left from a long clearance, Chang Jo-yoon did well to hold up play before laying the ball into the path of his Dutch team-mate, who proceeded to send a 25-yard rocket into the top corner beyond Shahril's despairing dive.
Fast needing a goal if they were to rescue something from a game they had been expected to win, Home mustered one final push forward and had the ball in the back of the net in the 81st minute when Fukui smashed home a volley, only to be denied by the linesman's flag for offside.
Six minutes from time, the Rams' excellent evening was slightly soured when Moon harshly received his second booking for a heavy challenge on Camara, but he was soon followed down the tunnel by Indra, who let his frustrations get the better of him as he kicked out as Atsushi Shimono, before angrily confronting Cho Sung-hwan.
And deep into injury-time, the Protectors' miserable night was made even worse when they were reduced to nine men, after Fukui was handed a straight red for an off-the-ball incident involving Shariff, who was left rolling on the ground and clutching his chest in agony.
Home United: Jang Hong-won (Shahril Jantan 69'), Nor Azli Yusoff (Mustaqim Manzur 67'), Noh Rahman, Ismail Yunos, Masrezwan Masturi, Lee Kwan-woo, Hafiz Rahim (Firdaus Idros 52'), Sirina Camara, Indra Sahdan Daud, Jordan Webb, Masato Fukui.
Woodlands Wellington: Yazid Yasin, Ang Zhiwei, Cho Sung-hwan, Shariff Samat, Rosman Sulaiman, Atsushi Shimono, Ridhwan Osman (Armanizam Dolah 85'), Goh Swee Swee (Taufiq Rahmat 67'), Khalid Hamdaoui, Chang Jo-yoon (Fadhil Noh 89'), Moon Soon-ho.
Image courtesy of Home United Football Club (Jaron Lee)