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Tampines Grind Out Victory Over Balestier

 

Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Tampines Rovers bounced back from their defeat to Ceres Negros FC in the AFC Cup with a narrow 1-0 victory over Balestier Khalsa at the Toa Payoh Stadium on Saturday night.

Ivan Dzoni’s second goal of the season was enough to help the Stags record their second successive win in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League and go fourth, level on points with Home United and Hougang United.

Juergen Raab made just one change to his starting line-up from their win over Hougang as the returning Yasir Hanapi took the place of Hafiz Rahim while Balestier’s Nanda Linn Kyaw Chit missed out due to injury.   

 

Clear chances were few and far between in the opening 45 minutes as Balestier sat back to frustrate the Stags who found out it hard to breach the opposing defence as a result.   

Imran Sahib and Khairul Amri had chances to open the scoring for the Stags early in the match but were unable to beat Zaiful Nizam.

The Tigers’ counter-attacking game plan nearly worked a treat as Hazzuwan Halim hit a low drive which Izwan Mahbud dealt with easily after combining with Fadli Kamis down the right in the 13th minute.   

 

The next chance of note would only come six minutes before half-time when Tajeli Salamat hit a speculative volley from 30 yards which an alert Izwan tipped over.

The deadlock was finally broken five minutes after the break when Dzoni pounced on a loose ball inside the penalty box before finishing past Zaiful from close range.

Amri could have extended the lead for the visitors shortly after the hour mark when he wriggled his way into the box but his shot was blocked for a corner.   

 

Dzoni then lashed a hopeful shot wide in the 67th minute, but would earn a penalty for Tampines with fifteen minutes remaining after he was felled in the box.

The Croatian was however denied by Zaiful as the Balestier custodian went the right way to keep out the former’s spotkick and keep the Tigers in the game.   

Both teams were then reduced to ten men deep into stoppage time as Sheikh Abdul Hadi and Tampines substitute Jamil Ali received their marching orders but it proved inconsequential as the Stags hung on for all three points.

Tampines will be up against nine-time league champions Warriors FC in their next game on April 1 at the Jurong West Stadium while Balestier face Brunei DPMM - another team still winless so far - six days later at Jalan Besar.   

 

Balestier Khalsa Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “I know we have got problems upfront, as we are missing a striker upfront to score the goals.

“But everyone is working very hard and you could see today, Tampines couldn't create clear chances. I appreciate how the team defends and I'm happy with their effort.

"We are now waiting for the June transfer window to look for new players so that we can have a forward but in the meantime, we may have to find solution from within the squad."  

 

Tampines Rovers Head Coach Juergen Raab: "I spoke to the team after the loss to Ceres that everything went wrong on on Tuesday and those kind of things happen once in 100 games so we have to forget that and move on.

"Good teams show that they come back well after a bad defeat and today was not easy against a difficult opponent and a difficult pitch so I am happy with the result."

Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Hanafi Salleh, Tajeli Salamat (Zulkhair Mustaffa 85’), Aung Kyaw Naing, Raihan Rahman, Kyaw Zayar Win, Huzaifah Aziz, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Jonathan Tan (Danial Farhan Tan 68’), Hazzuwan Halim (Ahmad Syahir 79’)

Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Jufri Taha, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Son Yong Chan, Ryutaro Megumi, Imran Sahib (Jamil Ali 66’), Daniel Bennett, Yasir Hanapi (Hafiz Rahim 83’), Khairul Amri (Shakir Hamzah 89’), Ivan Dzoni, Irwan Shah

Tags:
  • Great Eastern
  • Balestier Khalsa
  • S.league
  • Hyundai
  • Tampines Rovers