Home United 3 (Mendy 41’, 47’,79’)
Woodlands Wellington 1 ( Hussein Akil 43’)
A goalkeeping gaffe from Woodlands custodian Ahmadulhaq Che Omar helped Home get back to winning ways after their shock loss to Tanjong Pagar last week, as Frederic Mendy plundered a trio of goals in a 3-1 win at Bishan Stadium.
The Rams were quicker off the blocks and nearly caught the Protectors cold in the 3rd minute, when Moon Soon Ho jinked his way into the area only to see his low shot parried away. From the resulting corner, Goh Swee Swee saw his header at the far post hacked off the line by Nor Azli Yusoff.
Mendy looped a header over as Home tried to recover, but Woodlands threatened again when Hussein Akil shot from an tight angle and Nor Azli had to clear after Lionel Lewis had spilled the shot.
It was end-to-end stuff, and skipper Shi Jia Yi saw his near post header from Qiu Li’s corner come back off the crossbar on the half-hour mark, before Akil blasted narrowly wide at the other end after a neat change of pace left Nor Azli for dead.
The home side took the lead in the 41st minute with a flowing move. Shotaro Ihata held the ball up on the right before releasing it to the overlapping Nor Azli. The rightback sent in a peach of a cross to Mendy at the far post and he made no mistake with his header.
But the visitors stunned the hosts with an equaliser two minutes later. Moon brought down a high ball and calmly chipped a lovely pass for Akil, who dinked it over the onrushing Lionel to level the scores.
Two minutes into the second half, an absolute clanger from Ahmadulhaq gifted Mendy his second goal. The goalkeeper flapped at a harmless ball in the box when it looked like an easy catch, and the ball somehow found its way to a bemused Mendy after Danny Chew had tried to get back to clear. The Frenchman needed no invitation to knock it into an unguarded goal.
That took the wind out of the visitors’ sails, as Home went for a third to wrap up the victory. Qiu Li lashed a volley narrowly over after flicking the ball over a defender’s head, although Moon did see his snapshot well-saved after Akil had played him through cleverly.
It was all over ten minutes from time, as Qiu Li found Mendy unmarked on the right of the area, and the striker calmly slotted the ball under Ahmadulhaq and into the bottom corner to complete his treble.
Woodlands started the game relatively well, but they spurned the chances they created, and were duly punished at the back when they switched off for all three goals where Mendy was left totally unmarked for the first and third.
Goh Swee Swee was given a free role behind the two strikers, but he was crowded out by Home’s midfield trio of John Wilkinson, Sofiyan Abdul Hamid and Shi Jia Yi. Moon and Akil did well upfront though, and showed enough chemistry to suggest that they will be a handful for opposing defences if enough time is given for them to build up an understanding.
Home were a little sloppy in the first half, but they adjusted well in the second period to deal with the threat of Moon and Akil by switching Franklin Anzite with Sofiyan in midfield, which allowed the more mobile Anzite to push up and cut off the supply line to them.
Wilkinson’s return provided more stability in the centre of the park, as he and Shi Jia Yi pulled the strings. Ihata was shunted to the right with Qiu Li on the other flank, reverting Mendy to the centre of the attack in a move which paid off as he clinically finished off the chances that came his way.
Wilkinson return “good” for Home
Home coach Lee Lim Saeng was satisfied with the return of Wilkinson, saying: “When he didn’t play in the team, the other players played well, so I couldn’t give him a chance to him; also in the meantime, he was thinking about his behaviour. He worked very hard tonight, and played well with the team. I am happy to see him.”
He also gave credit to his players for the win in a match where they “couldn’t afford to lose”.
Woodlands assistant coach Clement Teo refused to blame Danny Chew for his part in the mix-up for the second goal.
“I wouldn’t say that it was complacency, but in terms of judgement, it was not a good call. Both of them miscommunicated, but it does happen. In the first few minutes, we had a couple of chances, but this is football; if you don’t take your chances, this (the loss) is what you get. The players were struggling to get back their momentum after the second goal. Home played well, knew what they were doing, and we just fell short.”
Looking forward to their next game against Courts Young Lions, he said: “Every point is important, and the players have been working very hard every week. We will try our best to get a win in the last game of the first half, then we will look forward to a nice RHB Singapore Cup tie against Kanbawza FC.”
Home: Lionel Lewis, Nor Azli Yusoff, Franklin Anzite (Hafiz Nor 82’), Rosman Sulaiman, Jeremy Chiang, Shi Jia Yi (C), John Wilkinson, Sofiyan Abdul Hamid, Qiu Li, Frederic Mendy (Rhysh Roshan Rai 88’), Shotaro Ihata (Firdaus Idros 65’). Unused subs: Nazri Sabri, Kenji Arai, Kairuldin Ishak, Indra Sahdan.
Woodlands: Ahmadulhaq Che Omar, Danny Chew (Farizal Basri 72’), K. Sathiaraj, Daniel Hammond (C), Duncan Elias, Edward Tan, Armanizam Dolah (Oswind Suriya 88’), Shamsurin Rahman, Goh Swee Swee, Moon Soon Ho, Hussein Akil (Guntur Djafril 78’). Unused subs: Ang Bang Heng, Han Yi Guang, Vincent Lee, Ali Razali.
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