By Alison ChinFollow @@AlisonChin9
Reporting from Jalan Besar Stadium
Aide Iskandar's team fell behind in the first attack of the game when Rudy Khairullah was beaten by a cultured free kick from the in-form Lee Kwan-woo, before Hafiz Rahim capitalized on some poor marking during a 69th-minute corner to wrap up the victory for the Protectors.
It was a case of contrasting fortunes when the two sides took to the Jalan Besar pitch for their game. The Young Lions were mauled 4-0 by Tanjong Pagar United last week and without a point to their name, while Lee Lim-saeng's men were coming off their fourth win in six games after seeing off Harimau Muda in Pasir Gudang.
The Protectors lost Lee and Masato Fukui to injury in the midst of that win, with only the marquee signing fit enough to start against Aide's men. Missing the suspended Nor Azli Yusoff as well, Home coach Lee turned to Juma'at Jantan to keep tabs on Young Lions attacker Sherif El-Masri.
Nevertheless, the Protectors managed to get their game off to the best possible start. Young Lions right-back Tajeli Salamat fouled Indra Sahdan Daud on the edge of the penalty area in the second minute, and with the travelling support baying for blood early on, Lee curled his set-piece coolly past the outstretched palm of Rudy to give his team the advantage.
El-Masri had a free kick attempt of his own, after his 16th-minute dribble across the face of the penalty area drew the attention of a bevy of Home defenders, but the Canadian's effort from the right floated harmlessly over Shahril Jantan's crossbar.
Five minutes later, his compatriot Jordan Webb came close to setting up the Protectors' second of the night with a far post cross for Firdaus Idros. However, the 26-year old failed to connect properly with the ball, allowing Rudy off the hook after the Young Lions custodian fluffed his attempt to collect.
Firdaus was presented with another opportunity three minutes later when he raced onto a long clearance down the right flank. With Rudy dashing out of the six yard box, the former Young Lions midfielder tried to place his shot into the bottom corner, but his effort went the wrong side of the post.
Young Lions skipper Raihan Rahman was having difficulty finding his scoring boots as well, as his powerful yet inaccurate first time volley in the 41st minute forced Aide's team to head into the break behind.
With just one goal separating the two sides, both teams began the second period in a cagey manner. The Jalan Besar crowd were forced to wait till the 65th minute for the first opening of the half, but Farhan Rahmat overhit his through pass into the penalty area, wasting M Anumanthan's brilliant turn away from Home substitute Sofiyan Abdul Hamid.
However, just four minutes later, the Protectors doubled their lead when Song Ui-young's brilliant volley from outside the area forced Rudy to give away a corner and the resultant set-piece was headed home by Hafiz at the near post.
Fareez Farhan could have given the Young Lions a much needed lifeline when he picked up the ball unmarked outside the penalty area in the 72nd minute, but his shot from distance was a tame one that was easily dealt with by Shahril.
Opposite number Rudy had put up a valiant performance under the barrage of Home attacks so far. However, in the 83rd minute, the 18-year old came close to committing a howler when he hesitated in dealing with a long clearance from the opposition defence, nearly allowing substitute Fukui to nick in and put the ball into an empty net.
The Japanese player was involved again in the 88th minute when he got on the end of Webb's low cross, but he shot the ball past the post. Nonetheless, Fukui's miscue did little to alter the game's outcome, as the Protectors picked up an easy three points against Aide's men to move above DPMM FC into fourth spot.
Courts Young Lions: Rudy Khairullah, Afiq Yunos, Tajeli Salamat (Afiq Noor 37'), Sheikh Abdul Hadi, M Anumanthan, Shamil Sharif (Faiz Salleh 83'), Raihan Rahman, Farhan Rahmat, Sherif El-Masri, Iqbal Hussain, Fareez Farhan (Nur Ridho 72')
Home United: Shahril Jantan, Juma'at Jantan (Sofiyan Abdul Hamid 62'), Noh Rahman, Sirina Camara, Masrezwan Masturi, Song Ui-young, Hafiz Rahim, Lee Kwan-woo (Masato Fukui 36'), Firdaus Idros, Jordan Webb, Indra Sahdan Daud (Aliff Shafaein 75')
Image courtesy of Home United FC (Jaron Lee)