It was a scoreless match at the Jalan Besar Stadium as an effective game plan by Balestier to hold Albirex at bay with defensive tactics succeededAlbirex Nigata and Balestier Khalsa played out a scoreless match on Friday evening as the Japanese side lost further ground on the title front.
The match was characterised by long shots and profligacy as the Tigers set out stall to frustrate the White Swans and stifle their style of play.
As early as the 6th minute, Park Kang Jin combined well with Tengku Mushadad to receive the ball at the edge of the box. The midfielder then dribbled past three opponents, only to rush his shot and curl his effort wide.
More pot shots followed from Ruhaizad Ismail as Albirex seemed subdued by their opponents' defensive plays while Balestier seem contented to test goalkeeper Hiroaki Hara from distance.
Park produced a superb pass to Qiu Li inside the box in the 23rd minute, but the latter slipped as he was about to pull the trigger and the chance went begging.
Over at the other end, Kazuki Sakamoto's dangerous low cross into the box was cleared before the lurking Bruno Castanheira could cause damage to Balestier.
Balestier could have gone one up just before the break, but Yusiskandar Yusop’s header just cleared the far post.
After the break, Albirex seemed to have warmed up to Balestier’s game plan and began to look dangerous whenever they had the ball.
In the 46th minute, Castanheira was allowed to run into the box with space afforded to him but the forward could not get his shot on target.
This was followed by Sakamoto scooping the ball over from inside the box after being pressurised by the Balestier defence.
Albirex came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 60th minute when Tatsuya Sase was allowed to roam freely down the right, and his cross-shot caused alarm for Zakariah Nerani as the goalkeeper stood rooted to the ground while the ball hit the far post and bounced away.
More ranged shots were attempted by Balestier but they were mostly off target, or lacked enough power to trouble Hara.
Nerani had to be alert just before the end of the game when he pushed Istuki Yamada’s cross into the air, causing the ball to gain trajectory and sail towards goal.
However, the goalkeeper quickly got up and plucked it out in mid-air to ensure his side went home with a share of the spoils.