S.League giants Warriors suffer late in draw with Balestier Khalsa
Spirited Tigers pull off last-gasp equaliser
BALESTIER KHALSA 1
(Fadli Kamis 89)
(Jonathan Behe 55)
They were almost home and dry, only to be denied by a classic sucker punch as gutsy Balestier Khalsa earned a point in the 1-1 draw with Warriors FC in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
The visitors were heading for their second win on the trot after French striker Jonathan Behe scored his fourth goal in as many games in the 55th minute, but Tigers fullback Fadli Kamis pegged back the Warriors with a bullet header near the death.
Warriors coach Jorg Steinebrunner was understandably disappointed when he said after the game: "It is frustrating because we were three minutes away from getting the three points.
"We lost two points to be very frank, but Balestier are a tough nut. They're a team who will give you the full 90-plus minutes.
"At 1-0, we didn't sit back; we wanted to score the second goal and we had the chances.
"But in the last 10, 15 minutes, I think we should have done better with our decision-making. At the end of the day, it was a superb cross and I can't take anything away from that one."
While the Warriors dominated possession in a dour first half, the best chance fell to Balestier.
Slightly more than 10 minutes into the game, Tigers forward Syafiq Zainal found himself alone in the box after chesting down a cross-field ball from the left, only to shoot straight at veteran goalkeeper Yazid Yasin.
The Warriors showed more impetus on the offence after the break, with winger Ignatius Ang missing a glorious chance in the 53rd minute.
As the Tigers defence failed to clear a corner, Ang found himself unmarked six metres out, but could only put his header over.
By then, the Warriors were already furiously knocking on the door, and their goal came two minutes later.
Midfielder Shaiful Esah rolled back the years with a moment of sheer brilliance, leaving Tigers defender Hanafi Salleh for dead on the right touchline with a nutmeg, before teeing Behe up for a simple tap in.
Things went from bad to worse for Balestier, as frontman Miroslav Kristic had to be replaced by Fadhil Noh after limping off with a knock.
While the Tigers never really looked like equalising, their spirit, evident in their 1-0 AFC Cup victory against Kitchee SC on Tuesday, shone through again.
After Warriors substitute Fazli Jaffar gave away a needless free-kick in his own half, Tigers midfielder Fazli Ayob curled in a delightful cross for teammate Fadli to plant his firm header beyond Yazid's despairing dive.
Despite the setback, Steinebrunner was not worried about any fallout.
"Over the 90 minutes, we were definitely the better team," he said. "If you look at (the points each team has in), it's going to be competitive."
His counterpart, Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic, was more upbeat.
"It's a very good point. I'm very pleased with the boys, they did an excellent job," he said.
"Honestly speaking, every game is tough. All of the teams in the league have drawn games. We are more or less evenly matched."
- BALESTIER: Zaiful Nizam, Fadli Kamis, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Nurullah Hussein, Hanafi Salleh, Shah Hirul, Syafiq Zainal (Zulkiffli Hassim 54), Fazli Ayob, Jamil Ali, Smajovic Sadin (Hazzuwan Halim 71), Miroslav Kristic (Fadhil Noh 61)
- WARRIORS: Yazid Yasin, Poh Yi Feng, Madhu Mohana, Kento Fukuda, Zulfadli Zainal, Syaqir Sulaiman, Ignatius Ang (Andy Ahmad 73), Nikola Rak, Shaiful Esah (Emmeric Ong 77), Hafiz Rahim (Fazli Jaffar 88), Jonathan Behe
- TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Shaiful Esah (Warriors)
- DPMM 2 Home Utd 1