Home United snare first scalp, trounce Garena Young Lions

Young Lions goalkeeper Benjamin Bertrand looks on helplessly after Khairul Nizam's header loops over him into the net. After six games, the Young Lions are bottom of the table.
Young Lions goalkeeper Benjamin Bertrand looks on helplessly after Khairul Nizam's header loops over him into the net. After six games, the Young Lions are bottom of the table.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Young Lions fall as Khairul Nizam brace gives Home first S-League win of season

S-LEAGUE

Home United 4

Garena Young Lions 1

Khairul Nizam had scored only one league goal all season for Home United. To make matters worse, the former LionsXII striker was deployed in an unfamiliar position on the wing.

But that did not stop him from scoring a double to inspire Home United to a 4-1 win over Garena Young Lions last night at Bishan Stadium. It was Home's first win in the league this season, ending a four-game winless run.

"It was hard at the start (to be playing on the wing) and I told coach that I couldn't play in that position but he believed in me," said the 24-year-old, who scored five goals in 21 games last season.

"I thought I made some good runs but there are still a lot of areas to improve on. I'm really happy for the team and I hope this is a boost for us in the upcoming games."

Home coach Philippe Aw believes that Nizam could continue in his new position.

He said: "He has played as a number nine previously and he was a number nine even in his youth days. But this is something new that we are trying and I'm glad he scored. There are still things he can improve on defensively and his positioning. He also gave away a few balls. But let's try and play him in a different position. Maybe he will go into the national team playing in that position and do well."

While it turned out to be a convincing victory in the end, it was not always smooth sailing for the Protectors.

In front of 2,048 fans, the Young Lions started the game strongly and one minute in, Fareez Farhan nearly opened the scoring from a Muhaimin Suhaimi cross but he blasted the ball over from close range.

Fareez was not to be denied 10 minutes later when he capitalised on a defensive mix-up to open the scoring for the Young Lions.

It was a wake-up call and three minutes later, the Protectors equalised, with Ken Ilso sliding in to connect with a Sirina Camara cross from the left to make it 1-1.

Home then took the lead in the 31st minute when Zulfahmi Arifin's free kick tricked the entire Young Lions defence and went past a diving Benjamin Bertrand.

After the break, Home then made it 3-1 in the 50th minute via Nizam's looping header which gave Bertrand no chance.

The Protectors then made the game safe with Nizam's second of the night in the 83rd minute.

With this win, Home move up to sixth in the table while the Young Lions drop to last place.

Home will face Balestier Khalsa at Toa Payoh Stadium in their next S-League game on April 1 while the Young Lions will host Tampines Rovers at Jalan Besar Stadium a day later.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2016, with the headline 'Protectors snare their first scalp'. Print Edition | Subscribe