Singapore Premier League • April 11, 2018

Balestier halt Young Lions’ winning streak to notch first victory of season


The hosts struck thrice to down the table-toppers in a commanding 3-1 success

Vedran Mesec celebrates his first goal for Balestier Khalsa.

SINGAPORE, 11 APRIL 2018 – Balestier Khalsa FC beat the Young Lions 3-1 to record their first victory of the 2018 Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League at Toa Payoh Stadium on Wednesday night.

Strikes from Vedran Mesec, Sheikh Abdul Hadi and Keegan Linderboom rendered Prakash Raj’s goal inconsequential as the Tigers snapped a two-match losing run to lift themselves off the bottom of the table.

The first chance of note fell the way of Balestier in the ninth minute when Hazzuwan Halim volleyed wide after pouncing on a loose ball outside the box.

At the other end, the Young Lions were unlucky not to take the lead on 21 minutes when Zulqarnaen Suzliman’s right-wing cross was cleared into the path of Joshua Pereira, whose effort beat Zaiful Nizam but not the post.

The tide swung in favour of the Tigers thereafter, with two chances within the space of five minutes.

First, Fariz Faizal forced Young Lions custodian Hairul Syirhan into a flying save in the 25th minute before Croatian midfielder Mesec somehow steered one wide off Hazzuwan’s cut-back.

However, Mesec was  not to be denied six minutes before the break as his powerful 30-yard free-kick found its way into goal despite Hairul getting a touch on it.

Balestier went two up on the hour mark when Linderboom beat the offside trap before unleashing a shot that deflected off the outside of Taufiq Muqminin’s boot and trickled in.

The visitors pulled one back in the 66th minute when Hami Syahin’s cross found Prakash, who smashed in his first ever professional goal to give the Young Lions a glimmer of hope.

But that was extinguished 15 minutes from time when Hadi glanced home a header off Hazzuwan’s corner to seal victory.

Young Lions centre-back Irfan Fandi was pushed up to support brother Ikhsan in attack in the closing stages, but Balestier hung on to claim their first points of the season.

The Tigers next face Geylang International FC on Saturday, while the Young Lions will now begin their preparations for the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy later this month in Brunei.

What they said
Balestier Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “It was very tough to come into this on the back of two losses… The boys did a great job today and didn’t allow the Young Lions to settle down by putting pressure early on.

“Our two foreign imports showed they can score today and they can only get better with more games under their belt. It was difficult for us defensively when Irfan went forward (in the closing stages) and caused us some problems, but most importantly we got the three points (at the end of the day).

“I’m happy we managed to score three goals today but it’s now time for us to recover and prepare for our next game on Saturday.”

Young Lions Head Coach Fandi Ahmad: “We didn’t play well today and fell into their trap, where they put their two tall players up top. I thought we had a poor first half where we didn’t pick up the second balls.

“The second half was better as we created more chances but at least now, the pressure is off us after this defeat because every team wanted to beat us. The boys did their best, you could see they showed good fighting spirit to try get a goal towards the end.

“I am happy for Prakash who scored today… Although he picked up three yellow cards in three games, I liked the work rate he showed, going up and down the right to provide the width. We will regroup and get better from here.”

Balestier: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Fadli Kamis, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Nurullah Hussein, Shahrin Majid, Fariz Faizal (Noor Akid Nordin 56’), Raihan Rahman (Huzaifah Aziz 54’), Vedran Mesec, Afiq Salman Tan (Sufianto Salleh 83’), Hazzuwan Halim, Keegan Linderboom.
Unused subs: Hafiz Ahmad (GK), Nurisham Jupri, Ahmad Syahir, Akbar Shah Zainudeen.

Young Lions: Hairul Syirhan, Prakash Raj, Irfan Fandi, Taufiq Muqminin, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Rusyaidi Salime, Hami Syahin (Aniq Iskandar 90’), Joshua Pereira (Sharul Nizam Anwar 78’), Naqiuddin Eunos (Danial Syafiq 59’), Syahrul Sazali, Ikhsan Fandi.
Unused subs: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Adam Hakeem, Amer Hakeem, Amirul Hakim.

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