Singapore Premier League • May 1, 2014
Balestier Emerge Victorious In Battle of Tigers
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Balestier Khalsa snapped their six-match winless run in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League after they downed Harimau Muda 2-0 at the Toa Payoh Stadium on Wednesday evening, courtesy of first-half strikes from Zulkiffli Hassim and Goran Ljubojevic.
Despite the deficit, the visitors did have their chances during the game but were profligate in front of goal as they subsequently suffered their tenth successive loss in a row to remain the only side without a point in the league.
In the absence of the suspended Tajeli Salamat, Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic reshuffled the pack and handed youngster Nurullah Hussein a start at right-back in place of Yusiskandar Yusop who slotted in central midfield alongside Ridwan Jamil.
It was an energetic Harimau Muda side who started brighter of the two as they had an excellent opportunity to take the lead in the ninth minute but Syazwan Zaipol Bahari contrived to miss from three yards out.
The Young Tigers then had another pop on goal on 14 minutes but this time Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam managed to get down low to parry Nurshamil Abd Ghani’s grounder.
However, it was Balestier who broke the deadlock in the 20th minute when Harimau failed to clear a cross and Zulkiffli duly tapped home from close range to make it 1-0.
Buoyed by their home fans, Balestier extended their lead four minutes before the interval when Ljubojevic beat an onrushing Ilham Amirullah to the ball before slotting into an unguarded net.
The Tigers never relinquished the lead although the second-half was a stark contrast to the first with chances few and far between.
Shortly after the break, a powerful left-footed effort from Irfan Zakaria flew just over the bar as they came close to reducing the deficit.
Nurshamil then expertly spun away from his marker inside the penalty area in the 65th minute but saw his effort kept out by the legs of Zaiful.
That proved to be the last noteworthy chance of the match as Balestier earned a long awaited three points at the expense of their opponents who remain in search of their first points of the season.