Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League 2015
5 November 2015 – Yishun Stadium
Home United FC vs Albirex Niigata (S) FC
PROTECTORS CAPITULATE AS SWANS CELEBRATE
Defeat to Albirex makes it three straight losses for Aw’s men
Home United’s ten match unbeaten streak must seem like a distant memory now as the club succumbed to their third consecutive defeat in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League, losing 1-2 to Albirex Niigata (S) FC.
The hosts had started the first half well, channeling the bulk of the passage of play along the right flank; Ambroise Begue, Song Uiyong and Ken Ilso featuring heavily.
Unfortunately for the home side, an injury to Begue in the 20th minute prevented him from playing any further part in the game and the Frenchman was taken off to be replaced by Stanely Ng. “Begue twisted his ankle after taking the shot,” Head Coach Philippe Aw commented, stressing that he had able replacements waiting in the wings.
“If he’s not ready for Tampines we’ll put on the next player. We’ve done this all season long. It’s always about the team, it’s never about the individual.”
Begue’s early exit didn’t seem to matter, as Home took the lead in the 27th minute through Song Uiyong. The midfielder met captain Noh’s cross at the far post with a spectacular diving header, handing the initiative to the Protectors after a period of sustained pressure.
The Swans pressed high in a bid to level the scores, but were kept in abeyance by some resolute defending in the first half. Coach Aw noted, “In the first half, Albirex had nothing. We played football and kept possession very well.”
“We scored a very, very good goal and were looking comfortable,” Aw said of the first 45 minutes. Home defended resolutely and did well to create chances by exploiting the space left by Albirex’s high defensive line.
Things were markedly different in the second half, however, as the visitors threatened in advanced positions up the field. Aw notes, “they (Albirex) picked up the pace a little but I felt we were still able to handle them.”
The Home side were sunk by two goals in three minutes. Fumiya Kogure’s 76th minute free-kick rebounded off the crossbar and Kento Fujihara was quickest to react, passing into an untended goal to equalise. The home side’s misery was completed not two minutes later when Atsushi Kawata raced onto a defence-splitting pass to poke the ball past an onrushing Shahril, sinking the Protectors to complete a hattrick of defeats.
Aw conceded that he was disappointed by the result, but chose to focus on the positives. “It was a good free-kick,” he said. “That goal changed the game.”
“I felt in the last fifteen to twenty minutes we were getting a little bit tired. It has to be said that this was our sixth game in twenty days, and it’s starting to take its toll on our players.”
“We’re disappointed with the defeat, but performance-wise we did well.”
Aw pointed out the similarities to his team’s fortunes early on in the season. “It’s coming back to the early part of the season: We played well, put in chances but didn’t score. Starting with Geylang, we were punished for not taking our chances.”
With Tampines Rovers next on the calendar, Aw insisted that his team were already looking to arrest their slump. “Our next game is away to Tampines. There’s no time to dwell, we’ll talk about our mistakes and it’s important that our players recover.”
The Protectors play host against Tampines Rovers FC on Sunday, 8 November 2015 in their second last game of the league campaign. Home United may yet have a say in the title race as Rovers remain the only team capable of usurping the Champions-elect. The 2015 title is DPMM’s to lose: Coach Sundram’s men are 8 points behind the league leaders and have to rely on DPMM slipping up in their final game to retain any hope of an upset. The encounter promises to be a fiery one.
Kick-off is at 7.30p.m.