News • August 6, 2016
First-Half Blitz Ensures Tigers Cruise Past Young Lions
Written by: Ryan Low
Three goals in the first 25 minutes proved to be the difference as Balestier Khalsa dispatched Garena Young Lions 3-1 in the bottom-of-the-table Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night.
Young Lions pulled one back late on through an Adam Swandi penalty, but it was too little too late as the local development side remain rooted to the foot of the table.
With just one defeat in their last five league matches, Patrick Hesse’s men was not short in confidence and almost broke the deadlock on eight minutes.
Fareez Farhan went through on goal via Hami Syahin’s defence-splitting pass, but was denied by a superb reflex save by Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam.
Balestier immediately launched a swift counter-attack, with Fadhil Noh receiving Shah Hirul’s lofted pass before crossing into the six-yard box for Croatian forward Niko Tokic to thump home a header.
The home side were left shell-shocked by that setback and conceded again 10 minutes later, with Miroslav Kristic’s header from Fazli Ayob’s free kick going underneath the right arm of Young Lions custodian Zharfan Rohaizad.
Balestier kept coming and tripled their lead in the 25th minute, as right back Fadli Kamis was at the right place at the right time to turn home Fazli’s inswinging corner.
Marko Kraljevic’s men almost made it four just minutes later, with Dhuhkilan Jeevamani deflecting Tokic’s header onto his own bar after Zharfan had scuffed his intended clearance.
The Young Lions had an opportunity to pull one back just before half time, but captain of the night Fareez Farhan got his angles all wrong from a 25-yard shot.
They kept up the momentum for the second half and went close again on 55 minutes, with debutant Christopher van Huizen’s cross almost dipping into goal before Zaiful’s acrobatic intervention.
Patrick Hesse then threw on Shafeeq Faruk and Ryan Syaffiq to add more impetus into the Young Lions attacking third, with the latter hitting the post with a neat right-footed drive late in the game.
Their efforts finally paid off on 86 minutes, with Adam Swandi sending Zaiful the wrong way from the spot after Joshua Pereira was fell by Fazli in the box.
Shafeeq could have reduced the deficit to just one deep into injury time when he got past two Balestier defenders in the box, but the 2015 Great Eastern-Yeo’s Prime League top scorer somehow blazed his shot over.
Balestier eventually held out for a win to go five points clear of their bottom-placed opponents, with just seven matches left to play.
Garena Young Lions head coach Patrick Hesse: “In my worst dreams, I cannot imagine we can play so worse. The first half was very bad and it was perhaps due to not playing a game in five weeks.
“It was very disappointing to concede from set pieces because we know exactly how Balestier play with Tokic and Kristic. In set-piece situations, their deliveries are very good and we must challenge.
“I cannot accept this although they are young players; they must learn quickly.”
Balestier Khalsa head coach Marko Kraljevic: “It’s not easy against this Young Lions team. I’ve watched their last few matches and they’ve been playing very well. My boys worked very hard and had a good start; it was a great win.
“Set-pieces is something which we’ve worked on and helped us score many goals. But I’m disappointed that we did not keep a clean sheet today. We’ve improved a lot attacking, but also been conceding the goals.”
Garena Young Lions: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Amirul Adli, Joshua Pereira, Fareez Farhan (C) (Gareth Low 77’), Christopher Van Huizen (Ryan Syaffiq 71’), Jonathan Tan, Hami Syahin (Shafeeq Faruk 63’), Shannon Stephen, Adam Swandi, Dhukhilan Jeevamani, Rusyaidi Salime
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Hanafi Salleh, Shah Hirul, Niko Tokic, Miroslav Kristic (Jamil Ali 71’), Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Fazli Ayob, Fadhil Noh (Sadin Smajovic 63’), Ahmad Syahir, Ho Wai Loon (Hazzuwan Halim 83’)