Balestier put three past Young Lions for first Singapore Premier League win

Balestier Khalsa got their first points of the 2018 Singapore Premier League season with a 3-1 win over Young Lions at Toa Payoh Stadium on Wednesday night.

Balestier Khalsa FC beat Young Lions 3-1 to record their first victory of the 2018 Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League at Toa Payoh Stadium on Wednesday night.

Strikes from Vedran Mesec, Sheikh Abdul Hadi and Keegan Linderboom rendered Prakash Raj’s goal inconsequential as the Tigers snapped a two-match winless run to lift themselves off the bottom of the table.

It was an evenly-matched opening 45 with the first chance of note falling the way of Balestier in the ninth minute when Hazzuwan Halim volleyed wide after pouncing on a loose ball outside the box.

At the other end, the Young Lions were then unlucky not to have taken the lead on 21 minutes. Zulqarnaen Suzliman’s right-wing cross was cleared into the path of Joshua Pereira whose effort beat Zaiful Nizam but not the post.

The tide swung in favour of the Tigers thereafter, with two chances within the space of five minutes.

First, Fariz Faizal forced Young Lions custodian Hairul Syirhan into a flying save in the 25th minute before Croatian midfielder Mesec somehow steered one wide off Hazzuwan’s cut-back.

Mesec was however not to be denied five minutes before the break, firing home a powerful 30-yard free-kick which found its way into goal despite Hairul getting a touch on it.

Sheikh Abdul Hadi’s shot was deflected wide for a corner in the 57th minute but Balestier would find themselves two up on the hour mark.

💪 First win of the #SPL season for Balestier Khalsa Football Club as they end Young Lions' winning streak! ⚽

Posted by Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League on Wednesday, 11 April 2018


Beating the offside trap, Linderboom then took a shot towards goal which inadvertently came off the outside of Taufiq’s boot before trickling in.

Headers from Linderboom and Ikhsan Fandi were unable to find the target but the visitors would pull one back in the 67th minute. After Hami Syahin’s cross had evaded everyone in the box, Prakash smashed the ball into goal to give the Young Lions a glimmer of hope.

All hopes of a Young Lions comeback were extinguished 15 minutes from time when Hadi glanced home a header off Hazzuwan’s corner to seal victory.

Young Lions Head Coach Fandi Ahmad pushed defender Irfan Fandi to support Ikhsan Fandi in attack in the closing stages but it was to naught as Balestier hung on to claim their first points of the season.

Balestier will next face Geylang International FC on Saturday while Young Lions will now begin their preparations for the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy happening later this month in Brunei.

Balestier Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “It was very tough to come into this on the back of two losses while the Young Lions won their first two games… The boys did a great job today and didn’t allow the Young Lions to settle down by putting pressure early on

“Our two foreign imports showed they can score today and they can only get better with more games under their belt. It was difficult for us defensively when Irfan went forward (in the closing stages) and caused us some problems, but most importantly we got the three points (at the end of the day).

I’m happy we managed to score three goals today but it’s now time for us to recover and prepare for our next game on Saturday.”

Young Lions Head Coach Fandi Ahmad: “We didn’t play well today and fell to their trap where they put their two tall players up top. I thought we had a poor first half where we didn’t pick up the second balls.

“The second half was better as we created more chances but at least now the pressure is off us after this defeat because every team wanted to beat us. The boys did their best, you could see they showed good fighting spirit to try get a goal towards the end.

“I am happy for Prakash who scored today… Although he picked up three yellow cards in three games, I liked the work rate he showed, going up and down the right to provide the width. We will regroup and get better from here.”

Balestier: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Fadli Kamis, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Nurullah Hussein, Shahrin Majid, Fariz Faizal (Noor Akid Nordin 56’), Raihan Rahman (Huzaifah Aziz 54’), Vedran Mesec, Afiq Salman Tan (Sufianto Salleh 83’), Hazzuwan Halim, Keegan Linderboom

Young Lions: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Prakash Raj, Taufiq Muqminin (C), Irfan Fandi, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Rusyaidi Salime, Hami Syahin (Aniq Iskandar 90’), Joshua Pereira (Sharul Nizam Anwar 78’), Naqiuddin Eunos (Danial Syafiq 59’), Syahrul Sazali, Ikhsan Fandi