Brunei DPMM FC overcame a one-goal deficit with a much improved second-half performance to condemn Balestier Khalsa FC to a 2-1 loss in the Singapore Premier League on Sunday night at Toa Payoh Stadium.
The Tigers took an early lead within two minutes of kick-off, with Brian McLean stabbing his clearance straight at Hazzuwan Halim and the forward did supremely well to rifle in the opener from outside the box.
An instant response could have been made by DPMM at the other end, but Shah Razen Said could only drill his shot just wide of the post.
Contented to protect their lead, Balestier sat back and were put under a sustained spell of pressure by DPMM.
But the hosts nearly doubled their lead in the 22nd minute, only for Hazzuwan to see his dipping free-kick clear the bar.
Just after the half-hour mark, another counter nearly yielded dividends for Balestier, as Noor Akid Nordin drove his way down the left channel before finding Vedran Mesec but the Croatian could only divert his effort past the post.
On the other hand, DPMM’s foray forward till then was perhaps best summed up by Hendra Azam’s hopeful attempt just before the break, with his volley flying over the bar.
But credit to DPMM, they came out a different side in the second half and were rewarded with an equalizer in the 55th minute.
Shah Razen played a one-two with Azwan Saleh before laying it on a plate for Volodymyr Priomov to smash home from close range to make it 1-1.
Both Shah Razen and his brother Adi Said would then miss several chances but the latter etched his name onto the scoresheet in the 64th minute, after converting a spot-kick won by Helmi Zembin.
Finding themselves behind this time, Balestier tried really hard to come from behind but they were thwarted by the brilliance of DPMM goalkeeper Haimie Nyaring.
The goalkeeper first had to prevent an own goal by Helmi after the defender deflected a corner towards goal in the 85th minute, before he made a superb one-handed save to tip away Mesec’s stinging drive.
Hazzuwan had the last chance of the game and found space at the edge of the box but he failed to find the mark to leave the Tigers without a point at home.
Balestier Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “In the second half, they started putting pressure on us and were more aggressive than us. We conceded the goal and it was tough for the young boys, we were not able to hold the ball.
“We were unlucky to not equalize, it was a good last 20 minutes but it was too late. It is wasted, the one cleared off the line, one shot by Vedran (Mesec) and one shot by Hazzuwan, we made a lot of chances but luck is not on our side.”
DPMM Head Coach Rene Weber: “Very tough, we suffered again in the beginning but the final result is important. Second half, we played like our team. Our way is to keep the ball, so the second half I am happy about the team. Second half we really played like our team, I hope we can, every game, play like how we played in the second half today.”
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK) (C), Fadli Kamis, Shaqi Sulaiman, Sufianto Salleh, Ahmad Syahir, Afiq Salman Tan, Fariz Faizal (Akbar Shah Zainudeen 65’), Vedran Mesec, Khairuddin Omar (Nurisham Jupri 82’), Noor Akid Nordin (Daniel Hazreel 83’), Hazzuwan Halim
Brunei DPMM: Haimie Nyaring (GK), Brian McLean, Hendra Azam, Azwan Saleh, Suhaimi Sulau, Helmi Zembin, Abdul Aziz Tamit, Shah Razen Said (C), Adi Said, Mojtaba Mollasaraei, Volodymyr Pryiomov