Singapore Premier League • September 7, 2014
Balestier Secure Top Six Spot In Style
Written by: Khalis Rifhan
Balestier Khalsa broke the hearts of Hougang United’s faithful as the former ensured a top-six finish in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League following a commanding 5-1 win over Harimau Muda at the Pasir Gudang Stadium in Johor on Friday night.
Marko Kraljevic’s side started the day in seventh place, three points behind the Cheetahs. But a goal each from Ruhaizad Ismail, Zulkiffli Hassim, Muhaymin Salim and a brace from Goran Ljubojevic propelled the Tigers above Amin Nasir’s outfit on goal difference.
Harimau’s consolation goal came from Syazwan Zaipol Bahari who netted minutes after his introduction in the second half.
With maximum points in mind, the visitors started the match with the fierce intent of mauling their younger counterparts. Balestier made full use of the flanks to penetrate their opponents and almost broke the deadlock barely a minute into the match as Qayyum Marjoni Sabil nearly turned Ljubojevic cross into his own net.
But the Tigers need not wait long for their opening goal as they went ahead in the ninth minute as Ruhaizad sent a precise grounder to the bottom corner from the set-piece.
Harimau could have drawn level four minutes later but Nor Azam Azih’s effort was gathered safety by Balestier custodian Zaiful Nizam.
It was a costly miss for the hosts as the Tigers doubled their lead seconds later. From a quick punt from Zaiful, Zulkiffli raced down the left side and delivered a tantalising cross into the danger area which was duly headed beyond Harimau’s goalkeeper reach by Ljubojevic in the 13th minute.
Despite trailing by two goals, the Malaysian developmental team did not put their heads down. They surged forward and plotted their way to the final third but were forced to take pot-shots from a distance.
Harimau went further behind five minutes after the interval as a result of a sloppy play at the back. Zulkiffli intercepted Qayyum’s half-hearted pass in defence and rounded Ramdhan for an easy go at goal to make 3-0 to Balestier.
The margin was reduced midway through the second half as substitute Syazwan’s effort from the edge of the box sailed to the top corner.
But if Harimau were hoping of a comeback due to that goal, they were disheartened as Balestier added two more goals.
Ljubojevic added his second goal of the night in the 72nd minute connecting a header off Ruhaizad cross and substitute Muhaymin got onto the score sheet four minutes later with his first touch of the game.
Both sides ended the match with ten-man as Harimau’s Qayyum and Balestier’s Poh Yi Feng received their marching orders from referee W.Ravisanthiran for an off-the-ball altercation in the 57th minute.