The hosts hit the post once and committed two absolute howlers, and paid the price for not taking their chances against the Malaysians when they conceded a last-gasp equaliserBalestier Khalsa will be wondering how they ended up with only a point against Harimau Muda after their match on Thursday night, having created enough chances to win it twice over.
Their young Malaysian opponents snatched a last-gasp equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the Toa Payoh Stadium after the woodwork saved them once, before the football gods smiled on them twice when the Tigers missed sitters.
The hosts came into the game on the back of a nine-game unbeaten streak and dominated early on against their inexperienced visitors.
Makeshift striker Paul Cunningham displayed his aerial superiority in the ninth minute when his header off a Tengku Mushadad freekick thudded against the post, with Harimau Muda custodian Ilham Amirullah rooted to his line.
The Tigers skipper wasted a golden opportunity in the 27th minute when Vitor Borges drilled a low cross into the box only for him to shin the ball over an open goal from two yards.
A third bite of the cherry was presented to Cunningham a mere minute later by Kim Min Ho, but this time the New Zealander viciously lashed the cutback just over the bar.
Kim forced a good save from Ilham near the half hour with a header off Syed Thaha’s cross, as the home side easily snuffed out the sporadic attacks at the other end.
Borges then made Cunningham’s miss look good when he somehow fired over from six yards as the goal gaped after Qiu Li had done well down the left to send in the cross.
It was left to Qiu to show his two teammates how it was done when he gave Balestier the lead in the 43rd minute.
The naturalised Singaporean sent Borges away down the right and when Cunningham scuffed his shot from the Brazilian’s cross, Qiu was on hand to tap home from mere inches at the far post.
The second half was a relatively tamer affair with both sides struggling to create any chances of note, although the Tigers still had the upper hand in the exchanges.
Tengku’s daisycutter whisked past Ilham’s post after Park Kang Jin set him up just after the hour mark, before Cunningham’s weak effort in the box was deflected wide a minute later.
Cunningham had his umpteenth chance to score when yet another Tengku freekick found his head, but he directed the effort straight at Ilham.
The game got scrappier as time went by, although that suited the Tigers perfectly as they held the lead against a toothless Harimau Muda side, who hardly worked Zaiful Nizam in the Balestier goal.
That was to change though, when the Young Tigers started to up the tempo in their search of an equaliser in the last quarter of the game.
Ridzuan Abdunloh had grown in influence throughout the second half as he started to torment Balestier down the left, and it was no surprise when he was involved in what felt like an inevitable late goal.
Late substitute Asyraf Talib made the desired impact when he slid in front of his marker to bundle home Ridzuan’s cross-shot in the 93rd minute, and was subsequently mobbed by the rest of his team-mates as they salvaged a draw against their wasteful opponents.