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  • September 20, 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • Jalan Besar Stadium, Singapore
  • Referee: L. Hoe

SAFFC 0-0 Balestier Khalsa: All square in even clash

SAFFC 0-0 Balestier Khalsa: All square in even clash

Zeng Liwei

Both teams played out a goal-less draw with clear-cut chances few and far between, as neither side capitalised on their best opportunities to end up sharing the spoils.

Balestier Khalsa ground out a goal-less draw against SAFFC at the Jalan Besar Stadium to stretch their unbeaten run to five games, as they kept up their strong finish to the season.

SAFFC striker Fazrul Nawaz missed a sitter early on in the second half, while Andrew Tan fluffed a late opportunity late on as both sides failed to find the back of the net in a tight encounter.

With four players suspended, including inspirational skipper Paul Cunningham and Korean playmaker Park Kang Jin, Balestier looked there for the taking, but their opponents started off sluggishly.

After a tepid opening 17 minutes from both sides, SAFFC striker Mislav Karoglan appeared to have had enough.

Receiving the ball 35 yards out from goal, the Croat deftly spun past three opponents and slid the ball wide right to Fazrul Nawaz, whose angled drive was well-held by Balestier goalkeeper Zakariah Nerani.

Fazrul then turned provider near the half-hour mark with a neat lay-off in the box for Karoglan, who dragged his stiff grounder wide of the far post.

The Warriors hitman was proving to be the main threat, and he came close again when his cross-shot curled away from the goal at the last moment.

Ruzaini Zainal then spurned a good opportunity to open the scoring for Balestier, after striker Kim Minho had found him with a cute ball over the SAFFC defence.

With only Shahril Jantan to beat, the winger’s hesitation allowed left-back Zulfadli Abidin to get back in time to force him to pull his shot wide.

The same player was a foot away from giving the Tigers the lead minutes later, failing to connect with Hamqamaal Shah’s effort across goal despite a desperate lunge at the far post.

Both sides went into the break without making a breakthrough, but Fazrul really should have done so five minutes into the second half.

Karoglan found Tatsuro Inui on the left flank but with the entire goal to aim at, an unmarked Fazrul somehow headed the cross wide from three yards out.

Unfortunately, both goalkeepers were to play the role of spectators for the next 20-odd minutes, with neither side able to muster any efforts of note.

One of them was eventually called into action in the 72nd minute, when Shukor Zailan forced Zakariah into a fine reflex save as his rasping drive from 25 yards arrowed towards the top corner.

Balestier responded by going straight down the other end on the break, but substitute Andrew Tan blazed hopelessly over with just the goalkeeper to beat.

Despite a late flurry of shots from both teams in the closing stages, a draw was probably the fair result as they ended up sharing the spoils.