Singapore Premier League • April 29, 2018

Linderboom, Noor Akid help Balestier edge Warriors to go second


The Tigers withstood a late charge from 10-man Warriors to make it four games unbeaten in a row

Balestier Khalsa FC midfielder Noor Akid Nordin celebrates his maiden professional goal.

SINGAPORE, 29 APRIL 2018 Balestier Khalsa FC surged to second in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) standings after a 2-1 win over struggling Warriors FC at Toa Payoh Stadium on Sunday evening.

New Zealand forward Keegan Linderboom continued his red-hot scoring form in the first half, before young Noor Akid Nordin doubled the lead early in the second period.

Warriors – who had to play out the final 23 minutes with 10 men due to Ismadi Mukhtar’s dismissal – got one back via the returning Jonathan Behe, but it was too little too late for the uniformed outfit as they continued their win-less start to the season with three draws and two defeats.

Warriors could have gotten off to the best possible start by scoring within the first minute, but Fadhil Noh’s free-kick on the edge of the box was tipped away by an alert Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam.

Balestier gradually settled in and broke the deadlock on 26 minutes through Linderboom, who was Johnny on the spot to slam home the loose ball for his fourth goal of the season after Warriors custodian Fashah Iskandar failed to deal with Hazzuwan Halim’s left-wing cross.

Warriors Head Coach Mirko Grabovac reacted at half-time by bringing on Behe to replace Fadhil and reshuffled captain Kento Fukuda into the heart of defence.

However, Balestier managed to double their lead five minutes into the second half.

Vedran Mesec produced the perfect flick-on from Huzaifah Aziz’s long throw for Akid, who gleefully smashed the ball in first-time from six yards out.

Left with a mountain to climb, the Warriors’ bid for a comeback was made tougher on 67 minutes when Ismadi was shown a straight red for swiping at Mesec’s face in an off-the-ball incident.

However the visitors got a glimmer of hope seven minutes later with two substitutes combining to halve the deficit as Tajeli dug out a superb cross for Behe to nod home.

The tide turned thereafter but Balestier did just enough to hold off the late Warriors onslaught to seal their third win of the season and their first league win against Warriors at Toa Payoh since March 2013.

Balestier will face Tampines Rovers FC at Our Tampines Hub next Wednesday, 2 May, while Warriors host Brunei DPMM FC on the same night.

Balestier Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “This is a great win for us and I’m happy with how we scored the second goal; we worked on that in training and it paid off. The only thing was that the young players had a little bit of problems closing out the game at 2-0 and Warriors managed to score one back.

“We did well without (the injured) Raihan (Rahman), but we need to do it for 20 more games, including cup competitions. Huzaifah (Aziz) did a good job; his mindset is always attacking but he’s doing well to shift it to a defensive one.

“There’s no problem for me facing (good friend) Mirko on the sidelines. Now after the game, we’ll still go for coffee and have a good chat.”

Warriors Head Coach Mirko Grabovac: “I cannot be happy with this result because many players did not play well. I’m surprised that we made many defensive mistakes and the strikers have no confidence.

“Behe came in and made the difference, but he also need some support from the rest. The problem with us is that we played better with one man down and we must do better than this in our next game.”

Balestier: Zaiful Nizam (GK)(C), Fadli Kamis, Shaqi Sulaiman, Nurullah Hussein, Sharin Majid (Ahmad Syahir 46’), Hazzuwan Halim, Huzaifah Aziz, Afiq Salman Tan, Noor Akid Nordin (Sufianto Salleh 81’), Vedran Mesec, Keegan Linderboom (Akbar Shah Zainudeen 81’).
Unused subs: Hafiz Ahmad (GK), Nurisham Jupri, Khairuddin Omar, Fariz Faizal.

Warriors: Fashah Iskandar (GK), Emmeric Ong, Delwinder Singh (Tajeli Salamat 54’), Hafiz Sulaiman, Ismadi Mukhtar, Ho Wai Loon, Kento Fukuda (C), Ammirul Emmran, Shamil Sharif (Suria Prakash 66’), Sahil Suhaimi, Fadhil Noh (Jonathan Behe 46’).
Unused subs: Mukundan Maran (GK), Daniel Shafiq, Poh Yi Feng, Firdaus Kasman.

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