Singapore Premier League • October 16, 2015
Pericic’s Late Goal Helps Tiger Pull Closer To DPMM
Written By: Kenneth Ho
Balestier Khalsa eked out a 1-0 win over Albirex Niigata (S) courtesy of a late Robert Pericic goal on Friday evening.
The victory at the Toa Payoh Stadium saw Brunei DPMM’s lead at the top reduced to two points, although the Tigers have played two games more than the league leaders.
The win was all the more sweeter for Balestier, as they were considered the underdogs for this encounter.
Albirex were on an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions, and had held an edge over Balestier in the head-to-head results with four wins and one loss.
Considering both teams were still involved in the title race, it was perhaps the reason why the match was a tight affair between Balestier and Albirex.
Albirex dominated the first half, but were unable to really trouble Balestier captain Zaiful Nizam.
The first save of the game only came in the 24th minute, with Zaiful making a smart save to catch Takahiro Saito’s header after he connected with Mikiya Yamada’s flick-on.
The defender came close again 10 minutes later, but again Zaiful stood in his way to make a clean catch.
Albirex came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 35th minute, when Shotaro Ihata swept in a cross which Hikaru Mizuno did well to stab at goal but Zaiful pulled off a smart reflex save to deny him.
In the second half, Balestier came out battling and Albirex were unable to enjoy as much possession as they did before, leaving Zaiful virtually untested
Both sides continued to struggle for supremacy, but neither would yield much space at the back.
Ihata had a chance to grab the lead for his side late in the game, but his header from Fumiya Kogure’s free-kick in the 85th minute went just wide.
His miss would come back to haunt the White Swans two minutes later, as a long ball was cushioned down by Miroslav Kristic and Pericic promptly lashed into the bottom corner to give his side the lead.
Despite four mintues of added time, Albirex could not manage a comeback as they slumped to their first defeat in eight games.
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Yusiskandar Yusop, Hanafi Salleh, Emir Lotinac, Igor Cerina, Zulkiffli Hassim (Fadhil Noh 66′), Ridwan Jamil (Jonathan Xu 66′), Robert Pericic, Tarik Cmajcanin, Miroslav Kristic, Ignatius Ang (Hazzuwan Halim 77′)
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK) (C), Mikiya Yamada, Kento Fujihara, Takahiro Saito, Yusuke Mukai, Itsuki Yamada, Hikaru Mizuno, Fumiya Kogure, Kento Nagasaki, Shotaro Ihata, Shun Inaba