SINGAPORE - Home United and Warriors FC combined to produce the proverbial game of two halves at Yishun Stadium last night.
In the end, it was the hosts who were able to make the most of their 45 minutes of dominance, running out 2-1 victors in the final Uniformed Derby of the 2015 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season.
Two excellent efforts by Kamel Ramdani and Ambroise Begue proved enough to overturn Warriors' first-half lead, which also extended the Protectors' unbeaten run in the league to nine games.
In his debut season as an S.League coach, Home's Philippe Aw had to be patient as his newly-assembled team initially struggled to find their feet.
It appears to have been worth the wait as the Protectors now look worthy to be regarded as one of the competition's top sides.
"When you have a lot of new players coming together and you're trying to implement new things, it takes a little bit of time," said Aw.
"It has taken us a while, but what is very important is that we want to play a good brand of football.
"For years, we've wanted to only win (silverware), but we must strike a balance between winning and working towards the fundamentals of good football.
"One thing that is evident is that the boys never give up.
"It's not about keeping this unbeaten record… We go into every game now wanting to win."
Yet, it did seem as though Home's excellent streak would come to an end last night as Warriors were clearly the better team in the opening period.
The visitors threatened as early as the second minute, but Home goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma'at made a couple of excellent saves to deny both Miroslav Pejic and Karlo Ivancic in quick succession.
But, in the end, they had only one goal to show for all their dominance - Fazrul Nawaz heading home a Hafiz Rahim corner six minutes before the break.
The Protectors awoke from their slumber right from the get-go in the second half and it was only a matter of time before they pulled level.
That moment arrived from a free-kick in the 58th minute when, with everyone waiting to see what the in-form Ken Ilso would produce, Ramdani instead stepped up and curled a sublime shot past a hapless Daniel Ong.
Home continued to pile on the pressure and had a number of half-chances, with Ilso, Azhar Sairudin and Imran Sahib all threatening but failing to do enough to find the back of the net.
With six minutes left on the clock, the winner finally arrived as Imran delivered a pinpoint cross from the right to Begue, who met it with a sweetly-struck volley into the bottom corner.
With the Warriors now facing a 10-point deficit in their bid to catch leaders Brunei DPMM, coach Alex Weaver lamented his side's lacklustre collapse.
"It was exactly a game of two halves," said Weaver.
"Credit to the players for delivering a first half like that, but then we completely stopped in the second half. We stopped thinking about creating space for one another and playing out from the back.
"When you play long and give the ball straight back to a good team like Home United, you just put yourself under unnecessary pressure, and that pressure was telling in the end."
TNP Man of the Match
Ambroise Begue (Home United)
HOME UNITED: Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Ang Zhiwei, Abdil Qaiyyim, Shahrin Saberin, Noh Rahman, Yasir Hanapi, Kamel Ramdani, Stanely Ng (Azhar Sairudin 57), Ambroise Begue (Sufianto Salleh 85), Fazli Ayob (Imran Sahib 67), Ken Ilso. WARRIORS FC: Daniel Ong, Daniel Bennett (Hafsyar Farkhan 82), Syaqir Sulaiman, Marin Vidosevic, Irwan Shah, Emmeric Ong (Hamqaamal Shah 90), Kevin McCann, Karlo Ivancic, Hafiz Rahim, Fazrul Nawaz, Miroslav Pejic.
This article was first published on Oct 22, 2015.
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