Striker Shahril Ishak led Home United to a stunning second-half comeback to beat Balestier Khalsa 3-1 at Bishan Stadium on Wednesday night.
Home United eked out a come-from-behind 3-1 win against Balestier Khalsa in their opening Great-Eastern Hyundai Singapore Premier League match at the Bishan Stadium.
While Home dominated possession from start to finish, they were made to work for the victory by a resolute Balestier side. Second-half goals from Sirina Camara, Song Ui-Yong and Shahril Ishak secured the points for Home after Balestier’s Keegan Linderboom scored from the spot on his debut in the first half.
Right from the opening minute, Home could have scored. Shahril was set up perfectly by Song’s low pass, but he somehow fired the ball wide.
Balestier could have gone ahead in the seventh minute, but fortunately for the hosts, Shakir Hamzah’s wayward headed clearance off a long throw hit the top of the crossbar instead.
Home continued creating but did not really trouble Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam in goal. That allowed the Tigers to slowly grow in confidence and they took the lead in the 27th minute after some quick-thinking from midfielder Raihan Rahman.
The midfielder took a quick throw and played Linderboom in behind, and a rash tackle from Home’s Aqhari Abdullah saw him miss the ball completely and trip Linderboom in the box. The New Zealander picked himself up and slotted the penalty coolly into the bottom left corner.
Home pushed forward almost immediately as they tried to find an equaliser, but could not carve out any clear chances as Balestier started defending in numbers.
Keegan Linderboom marks his #SPL debut with a goal for Balestier Khalsa Football Club! Will Home United Football Club catch up in the second half? LIVE stream ➡️ https://mycujoo.tv/fasingapore?id=15898
The Protectors brought on Camara in place of Shahrin Saberin at the break and he made an immediate impact, with almost all of Home’s attack going down the left wing. The visitors defence however, continued to hold firm.
In the 67th minute, Shahril expertly guided the cross to Hafiz Nor but the latter volleyed over. The former later allowed a golden opportunity to pass when he delayed pulling the trigger after Camara found him open inside in the box.
Home finally got the equaliser they were craving for in the 77th minute – through Camara no less. Hafiz and Faritz Hameed played a nice one-two down the right and the latter drilled a cross towards the unmarked Camara in the box, and the Frenchman blasted the ball in.
The goal seemed to give the host a boost, but a mistake from Faizal Roslan could have undone all the good work. Luckily for the Protectors, Linderboom could not take advantage of it and the chance went begging.
Home escaped once again after some scrappy defending prevented Vedran Mesec from getting onto the scoresheet, while M Anumanthan blasted wide from range.
There was to be no stopping Home though, who finally took the lead with two minutes left on the clock after Faritz’s pinpoint cross found Song alone in the six-yard box. There was nothing Zaiful, who had a wonderful game throughout, could have done to stop the ball from hitting the back of the net.
Shahril wrapped up the win in injury time, curling the ball past a hapless Zaiful after a wonderful run into the box for Home’s third of the night.
What they said:
Balestier Khalsa Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: I’m disappointed with the result, but very happy with the performance from the boys – they worked very hard. I have to admit Home United was the better team and they put a lot of pressure on us. We did very well until 10 minutes to go. When you are under a lot of pressure, it is unavoidable to make mistakes. Home also played few games competitively, while we didn’t (and that made a difference). But my boys were very close to take points, so that’s a positive.
Home United Head Coach Aidil Sharin: “First half we were not there, and Balestier made it difficult – we knew it was not going to be easy with their new foreigners, two tall players upfront. But second half we made some changes and it made the team better. With our fitness and character, the boys deserved the three goals and three points.
“It’s a very hard decision to leave out Camara from the start … What I’m happy is that when he came in he wanted to show that he really wants to win. That character is what I always demand from the boys.”
Home United: Rudy Khairullah (GK), Shakir Hamzah, Juma’at Jantan, Aqhari Abdullah (Hafiz Nor 63’), Song Ui-young, Faritz Hameed, Amiruldin Asraf (M Anumanthan 73’), Izzdin Shafiq (C), Faizal Roslan, Shahril Ishak, Shahrin Saberin (Sirina Camara 46’)
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C) Fadli Kamis, Shaqi Sulaiman, Raihan Rahman,Huzaifah Aziz, Afiq Salman Tan (Fariz Faizal 74’), Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Ahmad Syahir, Keegan Linderboom, Vedran Mesec, Noor Akid Nordin (Hazzuwan Halim 51’)