Singapore Premier League • June 13, 2014
Tigers Deny Warriors Maximum Points
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Warriors FC were held to a 1-1 draw by Balestier Khalsa at Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Thursday evening as Zulkiffli Hassim cancelled out Shi Jiayi’s first-half opener.
The result was however enough to see the eight-time league champions go joint-top with Brunei DPMM in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League standings on 31 points although they still trail by goal difference.
Missing Miroslav Pejic and Nicholas Velez due to suspension, Warriors coach Alex Weaver deployed Shi in an advanced role just behind lone striker Hafiz Rahim upfront.
Mid-season signing Ismail Yunos meanwhile made his debut after completing his switch from uniformed rivals Home United just a day ago and the defender put in a good shift at right-back.
The two teams took turns to have a pop at goal and it Warriors who had the first noteworthy chance of the game in the sixth minute as Hafiz saw his effort off Shi’s knockdown clear the bar.
Park Kang Jin’s audacious attempt two minutes later then sailed just over before the South Korean midfielder had his low shot kept out by Warriors custodian Hassan Sunny at his near post in the 11th minute.
Goran Ljubojevic was next on 22 minutes as he showed exquisite control to bring down a lofted ball before hitting a left-footed grounder which missed the post by inches.
The Tigers found themselves behind in the 26th minute when Shi rose highest to meet Daniel Bennett’s freekick as his header flew past a stranded Zaiful Nizam for his first goal of the season.
Ismail and Zulfadhli Emran could have added to that lead ten minutes later but their shots were hacked off the line as the home side held a slender lead going into the break.
The second-half was a stark contrast and Warriors had goalkeeper Hassan to thank as he kept Balestier at bay with a number of good saves.
He however could do little to prevent Marko Kraljevic’s men from equalising two minutes before the hour mark.
Pouncing on a mis-clearance from Zulfadhli, Zulkiffli proceeded to fire a finish which crept into Hassan’s near post to make it 1-1.
Jonathan Xu nearly gave Balestier the lead two minutes after the leveller, hitting a shot which Hassan parried for a corner.
At the other end, Warriors did have their moments too.
Zaiful had to be alert to push a header from Irwan Shah over the bar before Shi’s header from the resulting corner was cleared off the line on 72 minutes as Warriors came close to taking the lead again.
Ljubojevic’s downward header ten minutes from time was then pushed away by Hassan as the 30-year-old pulled off another save which kept his side in the game.
Warriors could have snatched all three points at the death, but Bennett sent his header narrowly wide as the spoils were shared with Warriors rueing the chance to go two points clear of DPMM.