Home United FC’s talismanic forward Shahril Ishak came to the fore once again with a winning strike that knocked Tampines Rovers FC out of the RHB Singapore Cup on Wednesday evening at Our Tampines Hub.
The Stags had a one-goal advantage going into this game but goals from Song Ui-young, Iqram Rifqi and Shahril ensured the Protectors won the second leg 3-1 and 4-3 on aggregate.
Home started the brighter of the two sides and prodded incessantly in pursuit of the vital goal they needed to draw level on aggregate.
It duly arrived in the 21st minute, as Shameer Aziq failed to clear M.Anumanthan’s ball and Song shrugged off Madhu Mohana’s attention to slot home.
Khairul Amri could have replied instantly for the Stags but he failed to get his header on target before going down looking for a penalty, which the referee waved away.
The second goal of the game came in the 34th minute, with Iqram doing well to win the ball from Irfan Najeeb before he finished off a one-two with Song by rounding Syazwan Buhari.
However, parity was restored just before the break came as Amri nodded in Ryutaro Megumi’s cross to level matters on aggregate again.
In the second half, substitute Amy Recha ran onto Song’s ball and went with a rasping volley but Syazwan was able to parry the ball.
Megumi will then rue his 67th-minute miss, scuffing a shot which still made Kenji Rusydi scramble off his line to tip away the goal-bound effort.
That gave the Protectors the impetus to restore their two-goal lead, with Shahril taking down Song’s lay-on before calmly picking his spot from the edge of the box in the 70th minute.
Tampines rallied late on and put Home under pressure, but they were thwarted time and again by Kenji.
In the 84th minute, Jordan Webb seemed certain to score as he diverted a Tampines corner towards goal but Kenji produced a stupendous one-handed save to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
The Home custodian would go on to deny Amirul Adli twice, first plucking the latter’s header out of the air before tipping away a fierce drive.
But Tampines’ greatest miss of the game came right at the death, when Irfan could only hit the post despite having the goal at his mercy.
There was still time for further drama, after Song managed to find his way through on goal at the other end and was brought down by Syazwan, which consequently led to his sending off to compound Tampines’ woes.
Home will now play Singapore Premier League and defending Singapore Cup champions Albirex Niigata (S) FC in the two-legged semi-final.
What they said:
Tampines Rovers Head Coach Jurgen Raab: “The result in the first half was correct when Home scored twice. The first 30 minutes, they controlled the game and deserved their two goals. Later we came back in the game and it was more open.
“I had hoped to do better in the second half and it was more equal then. But in this instance Home were better even though we had chances too. We knew we had to do something and we tried but this determination needed to come earlier.
“It was clear we had a tough match and not every player was able to bring the determination needed on the pitch. This was decisive in this match. Today, it was not enough for us to go to the next stage.”
Home United Head Coach Aidil Sharin: “To be honest, both sides did a good job. Both sides played good football and you can see the high intensity from the first minute. The boys have come here for a win and the way they gave it their best efforts meant they deserved this.
“We took the lead and when that happens you will tend to defend more. We sat too deep and that’s where the opponents were allowed to take shots and try to come from behind.
“It’s not going to be easier now and it’s a lot of pressure for the boys. They are young and it’s the first time they are in this situation where they are fighting for second and a spot in the Singapore Cup final. We will recover tomorrow first and plan from there.”
Tampines Rovers FC: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Madhu Mohana, Amirul Adli, Ryutaro Megumi, Jordan Webb, Shameer Aziq (Zulfadhmi Suzliman 36’), Daniel Bennett (C), Irwan Shah (Hariz Farid 90’), Khairul Amri, Irfan Najeeb, Hafiz Sujad (Taufik Suparno 73’)
Home United FC: Kenji Rusydi (GK), Shakir Hamzah, M.Anumanthan, Abdil Qaiyyim, Song Uiyoung (C), Faritz Hameed, Iqram Rifqi (Amy Recha 46’), Faizal Roslan, Shahril Ishak (Izzdin Shafiq 82’), Hafiz Nor (Fazli Ayob 79’), Isaka Cernak