League Cup • July 20, 2014

Ljubojevic Brace Propels Balestier To Plate Final


Written by: Muhammad Yazid

Balestier Khalsa ensured there was no upset at Toa Payoh Stadium on Saturday evening as they strolled to a 2-0 win over National Football League side Singapore Recreation Club (SRC).

Goran Ljubojevic was the toast of the evening as he grabbed a brace in first half to cement Balestier’s place in the StarHub League Cup 2014 Plate Final.

The Tigers were on the front foot for much of the game and constantly made use of the wide areas to find the breakthrough.

Zulkiffli Hassim’s and Kim Minho’s marauding runs on the flanks posed trouble for the amateur side and it did not take very long for them to break the deadlock.

16 minutes into the game, Ljubojevic connected well with Park Kang Jin’s corner as he glanced his header past Ronnie Smollet’s near post.

It became number two seven minutes later as the Croatian drove an effort from the edge of the box which had Smollet beaten.

Balestier maintained the tempo and could have added more goals, had it not been for the SRC goalkeeper and the woodwork.

Park’s beautiful curler was well parried away by Smollet for a corner, before Kim rocked the upright with his thunderbolt.

SRC had their first chance of the game on the half-hour mark when Ali Imran Lomri’s indirect free-kick was cleared off the line by Yusiskandar Yusop.

After the interval, things started to turn ugly for both sides as they each had a man sent off for an off-the ball incident, with Emir Lotinac and Ali both receiving a red card in the 53rd minute.

SRC had a much better performance in the second half as they held firm and even managed to have sight of goal on a few occasions.

While the Tigers could have made it three when Park’s free-kick was tipped off the bar by Smollet, SRC arguably had their best chance of the game when Anders Aplin was on a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam.

The forward had neither pressure nor any defenders closing him down but he chose to hit his strike from eight yards out straight at Zaiful to squander a glorious opportunity to score their first goal in the tournament.

The Tigers continued pressing for the elusive third goal, as substitute Ahmad Syahir’s shot was spectacularly saved by Smollet before the Prime League player missed another opportunity as his effort flew over the bar late in the game.

Balestier will be locking horns with Tampines Rovers who beat Police Sports Association 9-0, in the Plate Final on Thursday.