Singapore Premier League • November 1, 2014
Protectors Leave it Late To Snatch Victory
Written by: Shawn Lim
In a preview of what is to come in the RHB Singapore Cup final next week, Home United dug deep to overcome Balestier Khalsa 1-0 in a tight encounter at Toa Payoh Stadium.
Bruno Castanheira’s goal three minutes from time was enough for the Protectors to see off the Tigers on the last day of the season.
The Brazilian, who has at times looked off the pace this season, gave a glimpse of the brilliance he is capable of producing in a match that saw far and few chances for both sides.
The match had looked set to be heading for a goalless draw when Castanheira cut in from the left flank, skipped past the desperate lunge of defender Emir Lotinac and sent a low ball from 30 yards out into the net and past the flailing arms of Balestier’s custodian Zaiful Nizam in the 87th minute.
Home had started the first half warily, fully aware of Balestier’s giant-killers reputation this season. Having been beaten soundly in the reverse fixture back in June added to the cautious approach.
Lee Kwan Woo had a chance to break the deadlock for Home in the 30th minute after he was brought down in the penalty box by Nurullah Hussein.
Unfortunately, from the resulting penalty, the South Korean sent his shot wide despite Zaiful guessing the wrong way.
Before Lee’s penalty miss, Home’s best chance of the half came in the ninth minute when Masrezwan Masturi’s through ball sent Indra Sahdan through on goal. However, Zaiful was not troubled as the former Singapore international’s shot at goal was blocked by Lotinac.
Balestier had a couple of chances to opening the scoring as well, with a chance coming as early as the sixth minute.
Defender Syed Thaha whipped in a hopeful cross through the middle for Goran Ljubojevic, but the ball was cleared before the Croatian could jump to meet the ball.
Ljubojevic was in action again in the 16th minute when he brought the ball forward after a Protectors’ attack broke down. But after squaring the ball to Park Kang Jin, the South Korean ballooned his shot wide.
Both sides came out after the break determined to convert their chances in front of goal as they went in search of a breakthrough.
After Sirina Camara had fouled Ljubojevic outside the box in the 64th minute, Ruhaizad Ismail’s freekick look destined for the back of the net but Home goalkeeper Shahril Jantan was alert enough to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Lee, who looked even more livier after his penalty miss in the first half, played a one-two with Indra in the 68th before setting up Castanheira, who saw his shot flashed wide of the goalpost.
Castanheira then played playmaker in the 80th minute as he sent the ball into the path of the onrushing Song Inyong from outside the box, but the South Korean blasted the ball over the crossbar.
As the clock ticked down with one minute of added time, there was still time for Balestier to pull one back.
Poh Yifeng found himself in Home’s penalty box after dribbling his way in, but the 27-year-old showed a lack of composure as he dragged his shot wide of Shahril’s right goalpost.