By Gabriel Tan
Following a strong start in the first round of the 2012 Great Eastern-YEO's S.League campaign, the Tigers looked set to continue their good form after starting the second half with a 1-0 win over Home United.
However, they then fell to consecutive defeats to Tampines Rovers, Gombak United and Hougang United, and at times on Friday, it looked like it was going to be a fourth game without a win as Woodlands posed a stern challenge in the first half.
Nonetheless, mid-season signing Zdravko Dragicevic broke the deadlock in the 48th minute when he pounced on some indecisive defending from Daniel Hammond and Fabien Lewis to blast home from close range, before captain Paul Cunningham, who had missed a penalty in the opening period, grabbed a second seven minutes from time to seal a much-needed win for his side.
Speaking after the game, Wee revealed he was pleased with the spirit his players displayed to arrest their losing streak.
"It's never easy to come back from a row of losses," he said. "For them to bounce back with a convincing 2-0 win, it was a tremendous effort from the boys.
"We know we could have gotten more goals, especially in the first half. But a win is a win and with the performance they showed, there's not much to complain about."
Wee, who was speaking on behalf of head coach Darren Stewart, also praised the impact of Dragicevic, who finally opened his account after going goalless in his first three games since moving to the Toa Payoh Stadium.
"Dragi's goal will help him tremendously," he added. "As a striker you always want to score goals - when you don't, you start questioning yourself.
"But it's not just in tonight's [Friday's] game that he has done well. Even in the past few games, he has done tremendously but just couldn't score."
Equally pleasing for the Tigers, a team renowned for their strong defensive qualities, was keeping their first clean sheet since beating Home last month, especially after conceding seven goals in their past three matches.
"It was definitely important to get a clean sheet once again," Wee emphasised. "Keeping a clean sheet has always been the Balestier game plan."
Woodlands assistant coach Clement Teo refused to blame Hammond and Lewis for their part in Dragicevic's opener, after both hesistated in clearing the ball and ultimately presented the Montenegrin with a clear opening.
"You can't be consistent all the time - everyone makes mistakes," Teo said in defence of his centre-back duo. "Today [Friday] it was Daniel and Fabien [who made the error], we don't know who it will be next but you have to give them the benefit of the doubt.
"Especially with defenders, when you make a mistake, people remember. But as a striker, if you miss ten chances but score one, you still become a hero."
Teo also admitted it was a blow to lose another game where his side managed to match their opponents in general play, but just failed to convert their chances into goals.
"It's not that we played badly - we did very well," he added. "We played, we moved the ball well but it's mistakes that cost us goals.
"And we had our chances in the first half - it was one of those days, but give credit to the boys. They wanted it much more than anyone else."
Both sides will now turn their attentions to the Singapore League Cup next Friday, with Balestier taking on Albirex Niigata at the Jurong East Stadium, while Woodlands travel to Tampines.