Singapore Premier League • June 25, 2014
Stags Stay Within Touching Distance of DPMM
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Balestier Khalsa’s five-game unbeaten run in all competitions came to an abrupt halt after they were brushed aside 2-0 by Tampines Rovers at Toa Payoh Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Kunihiro Yamashita and Jozef Kaplan struck on either side of half-time for the Stags as they returned to second in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League standings on 35 points, three behind leaders Brunei DPMM.
In the first real chance of the game, Japanese defender Yamashita connected with Shahdan Sulaiman’s inswinging cross before thumping an unstoppable header past a helpless Zaiful Nizam for the lead.
The opener seemed to only spur the Tigers on as they created several chances to try and equalise thereafter.
Goran Ljubojevic almost scored with a screamer on 21 minutes but an alert Justin Pasfield tipped it over the bar before Kim Min Ho’s low shot was blocked for a corner six minutes later.
Pasfield was then called into action again shortly after the half-hour mark, making a brave block to deny Ljubojevic’s effort at point-blank range.
Jacob Butler came close in the 34th minute with a rasping shot at the other end but Zaiful was equal to the task and flew to push it away and that proved to be the final opportunity in a pretty uneventful first-half.
Shortly after the restart, Zulkiffli Hassim’s cross was met by Ljubojevic but the Balestier forward could only send a header wide at the far post.
In the 61st minute, Ljubojevic then spurned another chance to make it 1-1. Breaking free of the offside trap, he had only Pasfield to beat but failed to apply the finish as he shot straight at the Tampines custodian.
Balestier were made to pay for that miss as Kaplan sealed victory for the defending S.League champions on the 70th minute mark.
Capitalising onto a loose ball inside the penalty area, the unmarked Slovakian then proceeded to stab home from close range to wrap up the win and stay undefeated for four games.
Substitute Noh Alam Shah could have made it 3-0 a minute before the end but he was denied by the upright, much to the relief of Zaiful.