By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
The Tigers were in dominant form at the weekend as goals first-half goals from Ruhaizad Ismail and Park Kang-jin were enough to see off the visitors and hand them all three points at the Toa Payoh Stadium.
And after revealing the past week has been a trying one for him on a personal level, Stewart praised his charges for handing him so much-needed relief.
"I thought we were absolutely different class," he said. "I just salute the lads and - at halftime - I didn't know what to say to them.
"It was just an absolutely magnificent performance and it was one of those halftime team talks where you're trying to find things to say to justify your job as a coach!
"I haven't had a great week personally, I've been a bit down and that's to do with somebody who's very close to me who's sick and in hospital back in Australia, and they have chirped me up. Basically for 45 minutes, I forgotten about it and that's how brilliant they were."
One of the only negatives to come out from Sunday's match was an injury to star forward Qiu Li, who had to come off in the 34th minute after taking a heavy knock to his ankle.
But given how the ex-Home United man has regularly been the subject of criticism - sometimes unfairly - throughout his career, Stewart was quick to hail the character the 31-year-old showed as he tried to carry on playing.
"I thought we might have been in a little bit of trouble with Qiu Li coming off with a horrible knock," the former Australia international added. "It doesn't look good his ankle - it was five times the size it should have been with two big cuts.
"Again, I give him that much credit that he tried to play on. If anybody has seen his ankle tonight [Sunday], for anyone to try and walk back out onto that pitch shows what a champion he is. Because there is no way he will be able to walk tomorrow [Monday] and if it's not broken, I would be absolutely amazed.
"All I've heard is a lot of people criticising him and everyone is entitled to their own views, but for me, seeing what he had and he tried to play on, I thought 'Wow son, you tried to play on with that? I take my hat off to you.'"
The Balestier boss has long been known for his dislike of singling players out for praise, preferring to credit the team as a whole, but after being asked about midfield general Park, he conceded it was difficult not to commend the South Korean after a 'brilliant' display.
"You guys know I never try to bring up anyone but it's great players like that [Park] who make that space for themselves," Stewart replied, when asked about the time and space the player seemed to have throughout the 90 minutes. "And he was absolutely a different class tonight [Sunday].
"It's hard not to single him out. I always try not to but you [the media] brought it up and he was absolutely brilliant.
"There are a lot of marquee signings over here and he's right up there with them in my view - him and Qiu Li."
Given the heartbreaking last-gasp 2-1 defeat to defending champions Tampines Rovers last week, Stewart admits most other teams might have found it difficult to recover and get up for a game against the reigning Singapore Cup champions on Sunday.
But rather than agree with suggestions his side were helped by an insipid Warriors performance, he chose to hail the spirit his players showed in bouncing back and returning to winning ways.
"It was a devastating blow last week to hold the best team in the league - the champions Tampines - at 1-1 with a minute to go and then lose," he explained.
"They [Tampines] were the better team last week - don't get me wrong - but to get beaten in the last minute and to get your heads up and come out and play like we did a week later is magnificent. That is a sign of good people and we've got them here at this club.
"I don't like to say things about other teams; honestly that's not for me to do. If I do that I don't think I'm doing the right thing and I would be doing my boys a terrible injustice for the way we played.
"That's not my style to have a go at somebody else and I would have liked any team to come here tonight [Sunday] and see how they could cope with us in the first half. We could have been 5-0 up at halftime without really exaggerating.
"After last week's defeat, it's pretty easy to chuck in the towel and they obviously didn't. It was just gutsy the way they bounced back."
Following Sunday's win, Balestier are now up to fourth on the table and are next in action on Thursday when they visit Harimau Muda at the Pasir Gudang Corporation Stadium.
Image courtesy of Balestier Khalsa FC (Andrew Lim)