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  • February 28, 2014
  • • 19:30
  • • Jalan Besar Stadium, Singapore
  • Referee: S. Singh

Sublime Chang strike salvages point for Woodlands

Sublime Chang strike salvages point for Woodlands

Sam Chow

The Korean opened his account for the season with a superb goal four minutes after Balestier Khalsa took the lead to earn them a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw

A moment of quality from Woodlands Wellington striker Chang Jo-yoon earned his team a share of the points against Balestier Khalsa on Friday night at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The Korean struck a brilliant curling effort on 71 minutes to cancel out Goran Ljubojevic's opener four minutes earlier, with the game having been largely uninspiring prior to that.

The Tigers came into this S.League clash as league leaders, having thrashed the Courts Young Lions 4-0 last Sunday at the same venue, but struggled to replicate the same verve in attack without influential playmaker Park Kang Jin. Former Youth Olympics Games star Hanafi Akbar came in for his first start but lasted only 42 minutes, as he failed to shake off a knock.

It was Balestier anchorman Ridwan Jamil who had the best chance of the half, slamming a 30-yard half-volley onto the post in the 22nd minute with goalkeeper Yazid Yasin beaten.

Their opponents did not show too much quality in the final third either, with their most notable effort coming through centre-back Walid Lounis 10 minutes earlier as his 25-yard shot on the turn whistled just over the bar.

In keeping with the nature of the game, it seemed appropriate that the deadlock was broken through a defensive mistake.

An uncharacteristic lapse of judgement from Yazid Yasin saw him fail to gather a deflected cross from Syed Thaha, as Ljubojevic reacted quickest to poke home from close range to make it two goals in two games.

But Chang hit back almost instantly, controlling a long ball on the left before jinking past Yusiskandar Yusop and hitting a sublime strike from the edge of the box that dipped into the top corner.

Ljubojevic came the closest to scoring again when he flicked a looping cross from Zulkiffli Hassim just over Yazid's goal, as both sides settled for a point each in the end.

Despite Yazid's mistake during the game, Woodlands coach Darren Stewart refused to put any blame on the Goal Singapore Milestone Award winner.

"He’ll make up for that 20 times this year," the Australian said during the post match press conference.

"I haven’t seen one goalkeeper in the world that’s never made a mistake. He’s a top character and he won’t let that affect him."

His opposite number, Marko Kraljevic, was satisfied with the draw considering his team were without creative lynchpin Park  who is still recovering from a knee injury sustained in the victory against the Young Lions.

"I think a draw was a fair result for both teams," he said.

"[But] I’m not happy that Park was not playing. This kind of player, each team has only one. To replace him I tried Hanafi, but he’s not ready.

"They (the team) work very hard, we’re trying our best, but we can do better. Without Park we don’t have people who can give in the attacking third something extra, some creativity."

Balestier currently sit behind Brunei DPMM in second place with four points from two games, while Woodlands are in eighth place after drawing both their games so far.