Garena Young Lions lost 4-0 to Home United FC in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League at Bishan Stadium on Tuesday night.
Adam Swandi and Faris Ramli struck in the first half before one each from Irfan Fandi and Stipe Plazibat after the restart were enough to hand the Protectors their first win in three games.
Home coach Aidil Sharin rested the likes of Stipe Plazibat and Shamil Sharif, with Amiruldin Asraf and Haziq Azman handed starting berths.
Iqram Rifqi and Faris came close in the 12th and 16th minute but their efforts failed to trouble Young Lions custodian Hairul Syirhan.
The next chance of note would come shortly after the half-hour mark but Adam’s low shot was saved by Hairul at the near post.
But two goals in the space of six minutes would then put the Protectors in the driving seat.
First, Adam finished powerfully past Hairul after latching onto Faris’ through pass on 34 minutes, before Faris doubled the Protectors’ lead by firing into the bottom corner from inside the box.
The second half was a stark contrast of the first however, as both teams struggled to create clear openings.
Irfan made it 3-0 on 74 minutes when he stabbed home from close range after Hairul dropped Izzdin Shafiq’s cross inside the six-yard box.
Vincent Subramaniam’s charges nearly pulled one back at the other end in the 83rd minute, but Hami Syahin failed to steer Rusyaidi Salime’s low cross past Home goalkeeper Rudy Khairullah.
Plazibat later curled an accurate finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the box for his 36th goal across all competitions.
The result saw Home close the gap between them and second-placed Tampines Rovers FC to four points going into the final two games of the season, while Young Lions remain in ninth with six points from 23 matches.
Garena Young Lions Head Coach Vincent Subramaniam said: “The boys tried their best today and I cannot ask for too much from them. We held them for about 30 minutes before conceding those two goals. We came out for the second half not wanting to give up. We created chances but didn’t convert.
“I’m just glad no one got serious injuries, just a few knocks here and there. We now have our last match against (Brunei) DPMM on November 18 and it’s a little break for us.”
Garena Young Lions: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Rusyaidi Salime, Illyas Lee (C), Faizal Roslan, Syahrul Sazali, Amirul Adli, Shahrin Saberin, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Hami Syahin, Yeo Hai Ngee (Shameer Aziq 58’), Haiqal Pashia (Muhaimin Suhaimi 46’)