By Gabriel Tan at the Jalan Besar Stadium
A solo effort from Zulkiffli Hassim fifteen minutes from time was enough to help the Tigers see off their opponents in an evenly-contested encounter.
The match got off to a tentative start neither side looking particularly adventurous, although Mamadou Diallo was handed an early sighting at goal when Balestier captain Paul Cunningham presented him the ball after a slip, only for the Hougang striker to fire his shot straight into Goran Subara.
Minutes later, Canadian livewire Jordan Webb became the first player to enter the referee's book when he was cautioned for diving, before Fazli Jaffar recorded the first shot on target with a low drive that was comfortable for Joey Sim.
Tempers threatened to boil over in the 10th minute when Webb was brutally hacked down by Syed Thaha, before Balestier striker Park Kang-jin tested Hougang custodian Fadhil Salim with a looping half-volley.
Balestier did look threatening from set-pieces, with Cunningham and Subara providing the Tigers with plenty of height, but it was Ridwan Jamil who rose highest to nod just wide from a corner in the 34th minute.
Four minutes later, Diallo nearly gave the Cheetahs the lead when he met a corner with a perfectly-timed run and flicked a header towards the far post, only to see Hamqaamal Shah clear his effort off the line.
Hougang did end the half the stronger of the two, and were unlucky not to take the lead just before the break, when Ante Barac fired an excellent freekick from the edge of the area against the crossbar.
The Cheetahs came excruciatingly close again fourteen minutes after the break when an error in judgment saw Sim leave his goal completely unattended. However, Cunningham was on hand to head away Nurhilmi Jasni's cross right under the crossbar before any opposition player could pounce.
Hougang were starting to take control of the game, with Diallo looking extremely lively, but against the run of play, it was Balestier who broke the deadlock in the 75th minute. Picking up the ball in midfield, Zulkiffli carried it down the right and made his way into the box, before cutting in onto his left foot and rifling a shot into the roof of the net.
Kim Minho should have sewn things up eight minutes later when he was played through down the left, although he wasted the chance by scuffing his shot wide.
Nonetheless, the Tigers held on for a valuable win that sees them move up to second in the table.
Hougang United: Fadhil Salim, Faizal Amir (Basit Amid 81'), Stanislav Vidakovic, Syaqir Sulaiman, Lau Meng Meng, Jordan Webb, Azhar Sairudin, Ante Barac, Fazli Jaffar (Nurhilmi Jasni 57'), Mamadou Diallo, Sobrie Mazelan (Ignatius Ang 57').
Balestier Khalsa: Joey Sim, Syed Thaha, Paul Cunningham, Goran Subara, Jaslee Hatta, Zulkiffli Hassim (Ruhaizad Ismail 77'), Tengku Mushadad, Ridwan Jamil, Hamqaamal Shah (Poh Yi Feng 84'), Park Kang-jin, Kim Minho (Patrick Paranjody 90').