Football: Ilso penalty seals victory for Home United

SINGAPORE - After claiming their first win of the season on March 17 when they defeated Garena Young Lions 4-1 before the international break, Home United continued their winning momentum as they beat Balestier Khalsa 1-0 at the Toa Payoh Stadium last night.

The solitary goal came in the first half via a Ken Ilso penalty. Home skipper Juma'at Jantan's surging run into the box was halted as he was tripped by an opposing defender and up stepped Ilso to drive a low shot to Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam's right in the 35th minute, despite the latter guessing the right way.

This marked Ilso's third goal of the campaign and it was enough to give the Protectors their second win of the season - their first back-to-back victories in six games.

In a muted second half, both sides only had a few chances at goal. However, Balestier came the closest in the dying minutes of the game. During a goal-mouth melee in the Home penalty area, the Tigers spurned their best hope of grabbing an equaliser with substitute Shah Zulkanean missing an open goal in the 88th minute.

With the referee calling for five minutes of added time, Balestier goalkeeper and captain Zaiful lined up to take a free kick towards goal but it was deflected out for a corner. He stayed on in the opposing half in the hope of bringing his side level but it was all in vain.

Home meet league leaders Albirex Niigata on Friday.

Last night's match was the last opportunity in a while for Home duo Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi to play for their side due to their upcoming National Service obligations. But midfielder Ikhsan stayed on the bench while his elder brother, a forward, did not feature in the line-up. Both are enlisting on Thursday.

However, the duo of Shamil Sharif and Syahiran Miswan managed to make their debuts for the Protectors last night.

The win moves Home United up to fifth in the standings with eight points but Balestier are still looking for their first win of the campaign. The Tigers, on three points, are the only winless side in the nine-team competition.

Over at the Jalan Besar Stadium, Tampines Rovers beat Garena Young Lions 2-1 to maintain their undefeated start in the S-League. They are second in the table, level on 11 points with leaders Albirex, albeit with a game in hand.

The Young Lions are rooted to the bottom of the league with just three points.