There was no love lost between Balestier Khalsa and Brunei DPMM as they played out a 0-0 Singapore Premier League (SPL) draw at Toa Payoh Stadium on Saturday evening, before meeting again at the same venue in the second leg of the RHB Singapore Cup semi-finals in four days’ time.
Having lost the first leg of the Singapore Cup semi-final tie against DPMM 2-0 three nights ago, Balestier were looking for positives in this game ahead of next Wednesday’s second leg and they can take heart from stopping Ukrainian hit man Volodymyr Priyomov from scoring.
The 32-year-old was looking to score at least three goals in a last-gasp bid to wrestle the Golden Boot award away from Albirex Niigata FC (S)’ Shuhei Hoshino, but was frustrated all night by Balestier’s centre-back pairing of Shaqi Sulaiman and Nurullah Hussein as he ended his season tally on 17.
Balestier were plucky in the opening exchanges and could have scored after just six minutes, but Vedran Mesec was unable to put his dead ball on target.
DPMM did go close 10 minutes later when Captain Azwan Saleh’s free-kick was spilled into the path of Adi Said, but the latter’s follow-up went straight to Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam.
Balestier continued to threaten, with Mesec in the thick of everything as the Croatian attacking midfielder thrashed two long-range efforts over thereafter.
Zaiful then did well to keep the scores level, as he flung his body to deny Abdul Azizi Rahman from point-blank range on 40 minutes after Priyomov’s scuffed shot had fell into his path in the area.
The Tigers suffered a big blow going into half-time as New Zealander attacker Keegan Linderboom suffered an injury and had to be replaced by Noor Akid Nordin.
That meant they lost some headway in the second half while DPMM were seemingly happy to remain in second gear to preserve themselves for next week’s Cup tie.
Rene Weber’s men did go close to snatching all three points away from Toa Payoh seven minutes from time, but substitute Abdul Hariz Herman thrashed spectacularly wide from just outside the area.
It would eventually end as a goalless draw, with Balestier finishing the second in sixth place while DPMM still have a chance to overhaul Tampines Rovers for third place with a final home league game against Young Lions on October 9.
However the Wasps’ attention will surely be on the Singapore Cup for now as they target a spot in next Saturday’s final showpiece.
Balestier Khalsa FC: Zaiful Nizam (GK), Fadli Kamis, Shaqi Sulaiman, Nurullah Hussein, Ahmad Syahir, Afiq Salman Tan (Fariz Faizal 62’), Khalili Khalif, Huzaifah Aziz, Keegan Linderboom (Noor Akid Nordin 44’), Vedran Mesec ((Akbar Shah Zainudeen 72’), Hazzuwan Halim
Brunei DPMM FC: Haimie Nyaring (GK), Helmi Zambin, Brian McLean, Abdul Aziz Tamit, Najib Tarif, Azwan Saleh (C), Hendra Azam ((Abdul Hariz Herman 73’), Nurikhwan Othman ((Abdul Mu’iz Sisa 66’), Adi Said, Abdul Azizi Rahman (Shafie Effendy 64’), Volodymyr Priyomov