Singapore Premier League • June 23, 2018

Behe at it again as Warriors down Balestier for third straight win


The Frenchman struck a brace to add to Ignatius Ang’s opener as the hosts’ resurgence continued

Warriors FC’s Ignatius Ang scored his first goal of the season against Balestier Khalsa FC.

SINGAPORE, 23 JUNE 2018 – Warriors FC continued their recent renaissance as they comfortably defeated an under-strength Balestier Khalsa FC side 3-0 at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Saturday evening.

Ignatius Ang broke the deadlock against his former employers midway through the first half, before Jonathan Behe scored twice in the second half to ensure the Warriors picked up a third straight victory and go fifth in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) standings.

Meanwhile, the result meant Balestier fell to their fourth defeat in five games, although they remain fourth.

The first opening fell the hosts’ way on 15 minutes as a Balestier defensive lapse allowed Behe to sneak through on goal, but Zaiful Nizam rushed out of his goal well to close down the free-scoring Frenchman.

Mirko Grabovac’s men gradually found more inroads and eventually opened the scoring in the 21st minute through a superb move.

Right-back Emmeric Ong played a quick one-two with Nur Luqman, before playing a low cross into the area. Ang took a touch to steady himself and proceeded to lash home a blistering left-footed drive high past a helpless Zaiful.

That was the 25-year-old’s first goal since September 18, 2015 when he netted for Balestier in a 2-2 draw with Geylang International FC.

Playing with an all-local line-up due to injuries to their foreign attacking duo of Vedran Mesec and Keegan Linderboom, Balestier understandably struggled as they created just one chance in the entire first half.

Akbar Shah found himself in an excellent position to convert on 27 minutes after Ahmad Syahir’s cross from the left byline was half-cleared into his path, but his resulting shot was beaten away by Warriors custodian Mukundan Maran.

Warriors held the one-goal lead till half-time and they would double their advantage just three minutes into the second half.

Behe connected well with a corner to convert from close range, as the ball trickled in despite Zaiful’s best efforts to keep it out.

Balestier did have a chance to hit back on 55 minutes, but Sufianto Salleh lashed well wide with his weaker right foot from six yards out after Huzaifah Aziz’s free kick was half-cleared into his path.

The Warriors were content to sit back thereafter, with captain Kento Fukuda marshalling the back-line well to deny the visitors any meaningful goal-scoring opportunities.

Marko Kraljevic’s men did almost halve the deficit 10 minutes before the end, but Hazzuwan Halim’s header off Noor Akid Nordin’s inswinging corner flew wide of the right-hand post.

The home side would eventually add a third on the stroke of full time, with Behe heading in a teasing right-wing cross by Shamil Sharif for his seventh goal in three games and his 12th goal of the season.

Behe could have ended the night with a hat-trick deep into injury time, but his close-range shot was somehow denied by Zaiful before it rolled in.

The Warriors will take much confidence from this result as they go away to Bandar Seri Begawan to face Brunei DPMM FC next Saturday, while Balestier will look to recover from their poor form when they host Tampines Rovers FC on the same night.

Warriors Head Coach Mirko Grabovac: “The scoreline looks comfortable but I’ve felt confident a few times during games this season and then we made mistakes to cost us points. The players kept their discipline and winning mentality, which I’m happy about.

“Today we had some problems with one of our most important players, (Ho) Wai Loon out (due to suspension) and Tajeli (Salamat) was in reservist, but we did well. ‘Iggy’ (Ang) was out for a long time for army with no practice, but he’s a good player and I expect more from this after this goal. And I think Jonathan can be top scorer and I want him to be more hungry for goals.

“I don’t want to talk too much (about finishing in the top four); we have to go game-by-game and next is a tough game away in Brunei. But I want us to go there to play good soccer.”

Balestier Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “It’s very tough for us to play without both foreigners. We were just not able to do passes when it comes to the attacking third and it’s very seldom we threatened them.

“Jonathan is a class player; if you give him a half-chance, he will score. And ‘Iggy’ is a good player, he has lots of quality and I believe he can play for the (Singapore) National Team as he gets better.

“We don’t have a big squad. With a few injuries, the players that come in does not have the same standard (as those out injured). There’s not much local boys (to sign in this transfer window) and we have already filled our foreigner slots. We just have to go back to work hard in training and be positive.”

Warriors: Mukundan Maran (GK), Emmeric Ong, Delwinder Singh, Kento Fukuda (C), Daniel Shafiq, Nur Luqman (Shamil Sharif 75’), Ismadi Mukhtar, Firdaus Kasman (Poh Yi Feng 81’), Ignatius Ang (Sahil Suhaimi 65’), Tajeli Salamat, Jonathan Behe.
Unused subs: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Hafiz Sulaiman, Fadhil Noh, Suria Prakash.

Balestier: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Nurullah Hussein, Ahmad Syahir, Noor Akid Nordin, Nurisham Jufri, Huzaifah Aziz, Sufianto Salleh (Khairuddin Omar 70’), Hazzuwan Halim, Akbar Shah (Fariz Faizal 81’).
Unused subs: Hafiz Ahmad (GK), Zacharial Leong (GK), Shaqi Sulaiman, Khalili Khalif, Daniel Hazreel.

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