Shamil Sharif gave the home side an early lead before Yasir Hanapi struck a superb equaliser on the stroke of half time to ensure honours remained even
Midfielder Shamil Sharif gave the home side the lead on 15 minutes after he headed in a rebound, but the Protectors fought back and equalised in brilliant fashion on the stroke of half time through Yasir Hanapi's volley.
Home captain Noh Rahman, who was making his first start since his return from a knee injury, had an evening to forget as he got sent off seven minutes after the break after earning a second bookable offence.
Despite being a man down, Home dominated the second period as they tried in vain to find the winning goal, with the Young Lions hanging on for the draw.
Both teams entered the game on the back of resounding wins from the previous week, the Young Lions having blitzed Hougang United 3-0, while Home thumped rivals Warriors FC 4-1.
The match started in blistering pace as both teams tested the goalkeepers within the first minute of kickoff. Iqbal Hussain’s fierce shot was held well by Shahril Jantan, while Bruno Castenheira’s strike was palmed away by Syazwan Buhari.
But it was the home side that broke the deadlock when Shamil scored bagged his third goal of the season. Sherif El-Masri’s shot from the left was saved by Shahril, but the 22-year-old was on hand to nod home the rebound into the empty net.
Qiu Li then had a crack on goal on the edge of the penalty box 10 minutes later, but his shot went just wide off the post as Syazwan stood rooted to the spot.
Just as the game was about to reach half time, Yasir took matters into his own hands as he intercepted a clearance and sent an outstanding volley into the far corner to level the scores.
The Protectors tried to take the initiative in the second period, but they suffered a setback in the 52nd minute. Noh’s cynical challenge on Stanely Ng gave the referee no choice but to flash him a second yellow card, ensuring a miserable return to the side.
However, Home continued to dominate the game as the Young Lions played on the counter. Indra Sahdan probably had the best chance to nick the winning goal 15 minutes from time, but he missed the target from 10 yards out after getting to Castanheira's cutback.
The result means Home climb up to second on 20 points, leading Warriors FC and Tampines Rovers by goal difference but having played a game more.
Protectors coach rueLee Lim Saeng d the points dropped by his team, but gave credit to the Young Lions for their determined performance.
“We should have beaten Young Lions tonight because we needed the three points,” he said at the post-match press conference. “Tonight, the Young Lions showed good mentality. I feel the fitness of the Young Lions was better than us.
“[But] looking at the performance in the second half, even with 10 men, the opponent also didn’t make a chance. We made the chance. If Indra managed to score, the game would have been different.”
Young Lions coach Aide Iskandar, however, was more satisfied despite losing their early lead.
“I’m glad the boys continued their good form from their last match when we beat Hougang,” he said.
“I told the boys before the start of the game, 'don’t be surprised if you’re 1-0 up in this match' and true enough, we showed a lot of self-belief today, a lot of confidence and it’s a good sign. I hope we can improve from here.
“We didn’t let them play tonight, that was the game plan. If we allowed them to play, they have players like Lee [Kwan Woo], Qiu Li and Indra collecting the ball and if we give them space, they will kill us.
“But they were really frustrated at not getting the supplies. They are a quality side, but credit to my boys at the end of the day as they have shown a lot of maturity, so that’s a good sign.”