Singapore Premier League • March 29, 2014

Frantic End as Tigers Steal a Point Against Warriors

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Written by: Khalis Rifhan

Warriors Football Club failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage as they were held to a 2-2 draw against a fiery Balestier Khalsa that ended the match with eight men in a Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League encounter at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night.

Goran Ljubojevic’s opener was cancelled out by a brilliant Miroslav Pejic strike eight minutes before the break. Nicolas Velez then put the Warriors in the lead five minutes after the interval before captain Paul Cunningham equalised for Marko Kraljevic’s team late on.

Yusiskandar Yusop was shown a straight red for a lunging tackle in the 54th minute while both Kim Minho and Ridwan Jamil were sent off by referee Sukhbir Singh for a second bookable offence in second-half’s injury time.

Warriors started the match without custodian Hassan Sunny who was serving the first of a two-match suspension. Although Hassan’s stand-in Neezam Aziz did well to thwart several attempts at goal, he was caught out on two occasions.

Neezam’s opposite number, Zaiful Nizam, was called into action early in the game as he palmed away Daniel Bennett’s thunderous shot in the fourth minute before denying Pejic and Velez who took pot-shots from a distance.

The Tigers, who were still reeling from the long-term absence of influential midfielder Park Kang Jin, started with Poh Yifeng in the middle behind the front two pairing of Ljubojevic and Kim. The one-cap international nearly got his name ón the scoresheet but his attempt rattled the crossbar in the 24th minute.

While Warriors were bombarding their opponents’ defence in the opening stages of the match, it was Balestier that got the opener as former Croatian Under-21 International Ljubojevic connected with a header off Syed Taha’s corner kick that looped over Zaiful in the 15th minute.

After that goal, Balestier reverted to their defensive play and allowed Warriors to pile on the pressure and Pejic eventually leveled things in the 37th minute as he executed an outstanding curler from the edge of the box to the bottom-right-hand corner for his fifth goal of the campaign.

Buoyed by that goal, Warriors continued their search for another goal after the interval and were duly rewarded in the 55th minute when Shi Jiayi laid the ball to Velez in the six-yard box to have the simplest (tap-in) for his first goal in a Warriors’ jersey.

Trailing by a goal and a man down in the final ten minutes, Kraljevic’s gamble to throw Cunningham up to the final third paid off.

The aspiring Singapore international was left with acres of space in Warriors’ half and the towering defender lofted past the hapless Neezam to send the Tigers’ bench wild, with Kraljevic earning a caution for running onto the field to celebrate the goal with his players.

With the result, Warriors remained in third spot on the table with 10 points leaving Balestier trailing by a point in fourth place.