A lone strike from Ruhaizad Ismail proved enough for Balestier to inflict a second successive defeat on Geylang in a very wet game
Balestier Khalsa posted their first win of the season when they accounted for Geylang International 1-0 at Toa Payoh Stadium on a very wet Tuesday night.
The game was late getting underway due to a lightning alert but with both sides coming off first-round defeats, there was no shortage of hard work put in by either team.
Balestier made one change from the side that had been beaten 3-1 in their opening game by Tanjong Pagar United, bringing in speedy winger Zulkiffli Hassim for Hamqaamal Shah.
Zulkiffli had come on at half-time in that game, and he was to play a key role in the outcome here.
When the powerful Qiu Li found Zulkiffli out wide on the left in the 22nd minute, the latter swung the ball over to Jung Hee Bong in the six-yard area.
The Korean’s strong shot was pushed away by Eagles goalkeeper Takuma Ito but only as far as Ruhaizad Ismail, who swept the ball into the roof of the net with relish.
Most of the players had been splashing about on a pitch full of puddles by this juncture, and the side that adapted best was the one most likely to take the spoils.
Geylang ran into a red brick wall whenever they surged forward in search of an equaliser, with their industry and creative abilities insufficient to trouble the Tigers as Shotaro Ihata and Jozef Kaplan were both frustrated by some poor finishing.
Keeper Daniel Ong was in fine form for Balestier as he made several crucial saves, the first from Kaplan's low drive in the 29th minute and then doing enough to foil Ihata in the follow-through. The Japanese striker was denied again in the 78th minute after a splendid run down the left flank from Amy Recha and a nice flick-on from Kaplan set him up only for Ong, who saw the shot late, to tip the ball over .
The match was keenly contested, apart from an unsavoury melee in the 70th minute involving a number of players, resulting in referee Abdul Malik sending off Zulkiffli, who was quickly followed by Geylang’s wing-back Jalal.
In the end, it was the home side who secured a narrow victory, inflicting on the visitors a second consecutive defeat.