Home United made a swift return to form as they sealed a 4-1 victory at Bedok Stadium against Geylang International who are now bottom of the SPL standings.
Home United FC returned to winning ways in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) after a 4-1 victory over beleaguered Geylang International FC at Bedok Stadium on Sunday evening.
Hafiz Nor’s first-half brace coupled with a strike apiece from Shahril Ishak and Faizal Roslan rendered Shawal Anuar’s header immaterial as the Protectors snapped a two-match losing streak to move a spot up to sixth in the standings.
Geylang meanwhile slipped back to the foot of the table with just one point from five games and remain one of three teams without a win this season.
With an eye on their crucial AFC Cup group match against Ceres-Negros FC on Wednesday, Home Head coach Aidil Sharin made five changes to his starting line-up with South Korean midfielder Song Ui-young only making the bench after recovering from a hamstring injury.
That did not stop the Protectors from taking the lead after merely two minutes as the floodgates opened. Following good work down the left from Arshad Shamim and Shahril, Hafiz proceeded to slot the ball underneath the legs of an onrushing Zainol Gulam to put Home in front.
Hafiz could have doubled his tally in the 12th minute after a quick exchange of passes with Shahril but had his low shot kept out at the near post by Geylang custodian Zainol.
There was however no denying the 30-year-old as he calmly finished past Zainol after being slipped through on goal by Christopher van Huizen in the 24th minute.
It then became 3-0 on 36 minutes when M. Anumanthan released Fazli Ayob to put a low cross across the face of goal for Shahril to stab home from close range.
Defender Faizal would get in the act on the stroke of half-time, volleying home off a Hafiz corner at the far post to give Home a comfortable cushion going into the break.
It was all-Geylang after the interval and Shawal would reduce the deficit for the Eagles on 49 minutes, sneaking in unmarked inside the box to glance a header past Home goalkeeper Rudy Khairullah.
That goal gave the Eagles hopes of a comeback as they came close with Fairoz Hasan’s strike ruled out for offside before substitute Ryan Syaffiq flashed one wide just after the hour mark as Geylang grew in confidence.
Fumiya Kogure then had his free-kick brilliantly tipped away by Rudy in the 71st minute, with compatriot Yuki Ichikawa nodding over from the ensuing corner.
Home could have added a fifth and made sure of the result at the other end four minutes later, but Shahril was thwarted by Zainol in a one-on-one situation.
Despite a late onslaught from Geylang, they could not find another goal as they slumped to their fourth defeat of the season and will next face reigning champions Albirex at Jurong East on Saturday, April 28.
Geylang Head Coach Hirotaka Usui: “The players were all sleeping in the first-half… We conceded that goal too early in the game and that led to them losing confidence. It has been like that in our past few matches and we need to find a solution as soon as possible.
“I told the players at half time that they cannot give up and the second half performance was much better. I took a very big risk by playing only three defenders and one midfielder. It was in fact a high risk, but I’m happy with their performance in the second-half. We didn’t give up and could have scored.”
Home Head Coach Aidil Sharin: “The Albirex game was a bad day for all of us, not only one or two players and I told them we have to put that aside and bounce back as quickly as possible. We cannot go into the Ceres game with low confidence and we needed to change something in this game.
“I’m very happy (with what I saw today), especially from Hafiz Nor and Arshad. They don’t play regularly but they waited for their chance and they did well today. Arshad is only 19 but lasted a full game today while Hafiz proved that he is a quality player who just needs to be more consistent and I’m happy for both of them.”
Geylang: Zainol Gulam (GK), Darren Teh, Jufri Taha, Yuki Ichikawa, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin (C), Noor Ariff (Fuad Ramli 65’), Azhar Sairudin (Yeo Hai Ngee 46’), Umar Akhbar Ramle (Ryan Syaffiq 41’), Fairoz Hasan, Fumiya Kogure, Shawal Anuar
Home: Rudy Khairullah (GK), Shahrin Saberin, Shakir Hamzah, Faizal Roslan, Faritz Hameed, Christopher van Huizen (Izzdin Shafiq 65’), M. Anumanthan, Fazli Ayob (Song Uiyoung 72’), Arshad Shamim, Hafiz Nor (Amy Recha 79’), Shahril Ishak (C)