Harimau Muda 2-0 Balestier: Young Tigers victorious in rematch
The original match was rescheduled to Sunday night due to heavy rain, but Harimau Muda proved too strong again for Balestier Khalsa as they won 2-0 on a heavily cut-up pitch.
By Teng Kiat
Harimau Muda emerged triumphant from the rescheduled S-League match at the Yishun Stadium on Sunday night, after the original game had been called off due to heavy rain 11 days ago.
The Malaysians were leading 1-0 until the 64th minute when the authorities decided to abandon the game, but they still secured all three points in the re-match thanks to second-half goals from Ahmad Hazwan and D Saarvindran.
Set up in a 5-4-1 formation, Balestier were clearly looking to hit the hosts on the break, and they nearly did just that in the 17th minute.
Striker Zdravko Dragicevic played Hamqamaal Shah through with a slide-rule pass, who took a touch before unleashing an angled drive which was pushed behind by Izham Tarmizi at the near post.
The home side instantly responded with a raid down the left flank that ended up with Balestier goalkeeper Zakariah Nerani standing tall to block D Saarvindran's fierce shot.
Zakariah was forced into action again in the 36th minute to punch clear a 25-yard piledriver from Nazirul Naim, with the Tigers' packed defence forcing the home side to try their luck from range.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between on a horribly cut-up pitch, and it was apt that Lady Luck played a huge part in the opening goal in the 51st minute.
Striker Ahmad Hazwan's 30-yard shot took a deflection off a Balestier defender and looped over a wrong-footed Zakariah into the back of the net to give Harimau Muda a scarely-deserved lead.
The Balestier custodian then had to be alert to palm Wan Zack Haikal's shot away after the ball had taken a wicked bounce in front of him.
Centreback Goran Subara decided to take matters into his own hands by charging up the pitch with the ball in the 66th minute before laying it off for Park Kang Jin, but the Korean's powerful shot was straight into Izham's midriff.
Minutes later, the Harimau Muda goalkeeper had to race off his line to deny substitute Zulkiffli Hassim after the winger got into the box.
Tensions then threatened to spill over five minutes from time, when Zulkiffli took offence at a poor challenge from Affize Faisal. Both sets of players raced to confront each other but fortunately, the melee did not escalate.
From the resulting freekick, Paul Cunningham saw his low 20-yard strike well saved by Izham, before the Balestier skipper sidefooted a loose ball inches past the wrong side of the post a minute later.
The Tigers were made to pay for missing those chances, as the home side extended their lead moments later in the 88th minute.
Wan Zack swung a cross from the left to the far post for D Saarvindran, who coolly feigned past his marker before calmly slotting the ball into the far corner to make it 2-0.
Things got worse for Balestier as full-back Yusiskandar Yusop was shown his marching orders for a second yellow card a minute later.
There was still time for 16-year-old Arif Farhan to come on for Harimau Muda in the closing stages of the match, as the Malaysian club side closed out the game to secure victory.
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Times In MYT
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed