Singapore Premier League • October 7, 2014
Resurging Tigers Win Four On The Trot
Written by: Muhammad Yazid
Balestier Khalsa recorded a comfortable 2-0 win over title-chasers Albirex Niigata (S) at the Toa Payoh Stadium in a Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League match.
Goran Ljubojevic netted twice to award his side all three points, as the Tigers won their fourth consecutive game in all competitions to continue their fine form going into the end of the season.
With the intention of continuing their fine streak, Balestier started the game brightly and were put in the driving seat as early as the eighth minute.
Marquee signing striker Ljubojevic made full use of his height advantage to rise above the rest as he clinically nodded home Syed Thaha’s cross from the left.
While their opponents were trying to settle down in the game, the Tigers wasted no time in searching for a second goal with Ruhaizad Ismail’s long-range effort not far off from goal.
Albirex on the other hand had chances but their conversions were poor as they wasted two good chances following that.
Midway through the first half, a deep 50-yard cross by skipper Itsuki Yamada was well met by Kazuya Okazaki, but the forward could not trouble Zaiful Nizam with his header before his side-foot finish was well saved by the custodian’s legs.
The White Swans were desperate to go into the break with an equaliser but Balestier had other ideas as Zaiful once again was up to task to deny Kazuki Sakamoto’s header with a textbook save.
Okazaki then squeezed in an inch-perfect through pass down the middle for his strike-partner Sakamoto, but the top-scorer for Albirex blasted the ball over from close range.
The Japanese started the second half the way they ended the first as Okazaki once again found himself in a scoring position, but yet again he was denied by Zaiful.
Instead of sitting back to defend the lead, Balestier displayed hunger to double their lead as Park Kang Jin unleashed a curler from outside the box which sailed over the bar.
Taiyo Nishida then saw his header loop over the crossbar to end up on the roof of the net when Albirex started throwing bodies forward.
There was no way back for the Japanese side however, as Balestier sealed the win in the 90th minute through a penalty by Ljubojevic. The spot kick was awarded after Yamada was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
With the win, the Tigers have closed the gap on those above them as they are just two points behind Home United, Albirex and Warriors FC.