Balestier Khalsa 1-3 Brunei DPMM: Wasps go into the season-break as leaders extending their lead at the top to six points
Despite grabbing the lead before half-time, the Tigers were undone by defensive horrors in the second-half to allow DPMM to hit back and bag the three points
By Ng Jun Xian
Brunei DPMM extended their lead at the top of the S.League table to six points and went in to the break as the champions of the first half of the league, when they beat Balestier Khalsa 3-1 at the Jalan Besar stadium after a string of defensive errors by the host in the second-half.
Park Kang Jin scored directly from a corner right before half-time to give Balestier the lead, but a Ivan Jerkovic double and Basiru Osman goal in the second-half helped Brunei to take maximum points home in the last match of the first half of the league.
The match began in a cautious manner, with both sides trying to hold the ball and maintain possession.
Brunei had the first chance of the game in the fifth minute; when a mix-up between Paul Cunningham and Syed Thaha allowed top-scorer Shahrazen Said to tee up one from 25 yards out but his shot went straight into Balestier keeper Joey Sim’s arms.
Basiru then had a good chance four minutes later but the forward directed his header wide after a good cross in from Shahrazen.
Balestier then had their first good chance of the game in the 15th minute, when Kim Min Ho delivered a good ball up to Zulkiffli but the winger sent his shot way wide in the box.
Rodrigo Grahl then whipped in a ‘boomerang’ free kick from 25 yards out in the 22nd minute but Joey Sim made a stunning save to tip the ball out, leaving the Brazillian in disbelief.
With Brunei’s captain Rosmin Kamis dominating the midfield, the visitors went on to have the better share of the possession but failed to create anything out of it.
Against the run of play, Balestier got the lead seconds before half time, when Park Kang Jin scored directly from a corner kick.
The Korean whipped in a wicked corner kick from the right and despite DPMM custodian Wardun Yussof’s attempt to palm the ball out, the ball went straight into the net, making it 1-0 to the Tigers, just before the break.
To everyone’s surprise, Grahl was removed during half time and replaced by Awangku Fakharazzi.
But that did not affect the team as they got their equalizier in the 56th minute with Jerkovic being the hero.
The Croatian sent in a looping free kick from 35 yards out and it went straight under Joey Sim who tried to save it, making it 1-1 for his team.
Azwan Saleh then thought he had given his side the lead in the 69th minute, when his powerful free kick seemed destined for the net, but the midfielder was denied by Joey Sim who made yet another stunning save.
But Brunei took the lead in the 74th minute when a terrible mistake by Jaslee Hatta allowed Basiru to race through and the Ghanaian skillfully rounded off Joey who had dashed out and slotted the ball gracefully into the empty net to make it 2-1.
Balestier then sent on super-sub Andrew Tan, Patrick Paran and Tengku Mushadad in search for the equalizing goal, but Brunei held on and found the third goal in the 89th minute, ending the match as a contest.
Once again, Basiru charged forward during a counter attack and with no one catching him, the forward whacked the ball in the box but it was palmed out by Joey Sim.
Unfortunately for the home side, Jerkovic was there to volley it home, making it 3-1 to the visitors.
With this victory, the Wasps head home with all smiles, and this victory will also serve as a morale booster for their clash with defending champions Home United next week in the RHB Singapore Cup 2012.
For the Tigers, the break would be a good time for them to regroup after two consecutive losses and they will certainly come back stronger when the league resumes on June 14.
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