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  • July 17, 2013
  • • 20:00
  • • Bishan Stadium, Singapore
  • Referee: Y. Buhari

Cunningham winner prolongs Protectors slump

Cunningham winner prolongs Protectors slump

Muhammad Farhan

Despite taking the lead Home United had to concede defeat to a spirited Balestier side that saw Qiu Li and Paul Cunningham on target

Balestier Khalsa came from behind to beat Home United 2-1 at the Bishan Stadium on Wednesday evening, extending their unbeaten run in the 2013 Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League to seven games.

Home midfielder Lee Kwan Woo converted an early spot kick before Qiu Li fired home a free kick to level the game for Balestier. But it was Tigers captain Paul Cunningham who snatched all three points for his side.

The Protectors were desperate to bounce back from their 4-1 defeat to Tampines Rovers last Sunday and were well on the way to do so after 11 minutes of the game.

Veteran striker Indra Sahdan was brought down in the box and referee Mohd Yazeen Buhari wasted no time in pointing to the spot. Up stepped South Korean midfielder Lee Kwan Woo to give the home side the lead.

The Tigers were winless in their last two matches, drawing 1-1 against Harimau Muda and Warriors FC respectively and it looked an uphill task for Darren Stewart’s men.

But they got their break in the 39th minute when Singapore international Qiu Li fired a stunning free kick to bring his side level into half time.

The 32-year-old nearly gave the Tigers the lead 10 minutes after the break when he launched a rocket from 30 yards out. But Home goalkeeper Shahril Jantan rescued his side with a brilliant save.

The game became increasingly heated thanks to a series of nasty challenges from the visitors.

Defender Yusiskandar Yusop was lucky to be still on the pitch after hacking down Indra Sahdan from the back being let off with a yellow card.

The home crowd was further riled when Ruhaizad Ismail went in hard and late on Song Ul Yong a minute later, only for the referee to award the free kick to the away side, much to the bewilderment of the fans.

But Balestier’s physical game reaped its reward in the 67th minute when captain Paul Cunningham was found unmarked in the penalty box from a corner kick by Ismail. Cunningham had the easiest of tasks of heading the ball past Shahril Jantan to give his side the lead.

The Tigers nearly got a third goal which would surely have sealed all three points when midfielder Park Kang Jin’s audacious but miscued half-field volley hit the crossbar.

Nevertheless, Balestier held on for a crucial victory, which saw them propel above Home United into fifth place.

They take on Hougang United next while the Protectors face Warriors FC.