Singapore Premier League • May 19, 2018

Balestier stun Home with late goals in fightback win


A late equaliser, an injury-time winner and two red cards provided plenty of drama at the Sports Hub. 

Vedran Mesec celebrates after his equaliser for Balestier against the Protectors.

SINGAPORE, 19 MAY 2018 – Balestier Khalsa FC conjured a stunning performance to shock Home United FC and claim a come-from-behind 2-1 win at the National Stadium on Saturday night to go second in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL).

Hafiz Nor broke the deadlock early on, but Vedran Mesec struck the equaliser with three minutes left to set the stage for a brilliant winner by Huzaifah Aziz in injury time.

The Tigers midfielder embarked on a mazy solo run before finishing past Home goalkeeper Rudy Khairullah to complete a remarkable turnaround and end a two-game losing streak.

It did not look likely from the offset as Home, fresh from their AFC Cup heroics, drew first blood on nine minutes.

Song Ui-young played Hafiz Nor through and the 30-year-old prodded the ball past goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam for his third league goal.

It should have been 2-0 on 15 minutes when Hafiz made his way into the box and his cut-back found Sirina Camara, but the Frenchman somehow contrived to blaze over from close range.

The Tigers were not without their chances though. Huzaifah Aziz drew a save from Rudy with his free-kick in the 36th minute, while Mesec flashed a shot wide just before the break.

In the 50th minute, Hazzuwan found himself unmarked but shot straight at Rudy; three minutes later, Faizal Roslan rose highest to meet Izzdin Shafiq’s corner but Zaiful palmed the header away.

Desperate to get back into the game, Balestier threw on a half-fit Keegan Linderboom in the 69th minute and he nearly made an instant impact as his flick off Huzaifah’s corner went just wide.

Faizal saw another header stopped on the line by Zaiful, before Linderboom sent an attempt of his own just over at the other end.

In the 83rd minute, Home had a great opportunity to double their lead as they went on the counter and Song found Hafiz in the box, only for him to produce a tame finish straight at Zaiful.

They would rue that miss just a minute later as Mesec managed to find space from distance to squeeze the ball into the bottom corner to make it 1-1, despite the sea of bodies in front of him.

The celebrations were wild, but nothing compared to the ones four minutes later. Surging down the right, Huzaifah looked boxed into the corner arc by two Home players – only to somehow wriggle out of the situation with the ball and advance into the area, before sensationally drilling a low shot into the far corner.

That wasn’t the end of the action though, as Noor Akid Nordin brought down M. Anumanthan and sparked off a confrontation between both sides.

Anumanthan and Nurullah Hussein were both shown their second yellow cards as a consequence, capping off a dramatic first ever SPL clash for both sides at the Sports Hub.

Balestier Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “It is not every day you get a chance to play in a beautiful stadium and playing here was a good experience.  These boys are amazing, I am really proud of them. Keegan (Linderboom) never trained yesterday because of the weather and I was asking if he was ready because it was our last change but he said he can do it and he helped us a lot. His presence in the opponents’ penalty box was precious.”

Home Head Coach Aidil Sharin: “It was a very tough game, we knew that Balestier are a very hard working team and they will never give up. Their two foreigners gave us problems but we had a good chance to kill it off when Hafiz had that open chance. The boys tried very hard, they tried to get that second goal but Balestier keeper did very well and the defenders too, they tried to stop all our attacks. Just not our luck today, the ball just didn’t want to go in.”

Balestier: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Fadli Kamis, Shaqi Sulaiman (Nurullah Hussein 56’), Sufianto Salleh, Afiq Salman Tan (Keegan Linderboom 69’), Huzaifah Aziz, Sharin Majid (Ahmad Syahir 5’) Vedran Mesec, Nurisham Jupri, Noor Akid Nordin, Hazzuwan Halim.
Unused subs: Hafiz Ahmad, Fariz Faizal , Khairuddin Omar, Akbar Shah.

Home: Rudy Khairullah (GK), Abdil Qaiyyim, Faizal Roslan, Faritz Hameed, Sirina Camara, M. Anumanthan, Izzdin Shafiq (C), Arshad Shamim (Amiruldin Asraf 90’+2), Hafiz Nor (Christopher Van Huizen 86’), Song Ui-young, Iqram Rifqi (Amy Recha 64’).
Unused subs: Kenji Rusydi, Juma’at Jantan, Aqhari Abdullah, Shahrin Saberin.

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