Aide Iskandar's young charges failed to hold on to a one-goal lead as they succumbed to a Qiu Li-inspired fightback from the visitors
Despite taking the lead in the game, the Courts Young Lions were not able to arrest Balestier Khalsa's stunning performance in the second half as the visitors cruised to a 3-1 victory at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Aide Iskandar’s side had the perfect start to the game when they took the lead in the 13th minute on a cool Thursday night.
Captain Raihan Rahman’s ball from a set-piece in their own half floated perfectly into the penalty box and Afiq Yunos out-jumped the Balestier defenders to head home the opener.
Despite languishing at the bottom of the table, the developmental side showed confidence and were constantly fighting for every ball.
Balestier were not having it easy as they tried to maneuver past the Young Lions backline, which was marshaled ably by Raihan and Afiq.
The Tigers had several opportunities to equalise through set-pieces but they were either denied by the crossbar or the heroics of Syazwan Buhari in goal for the hosts.
But a defensive mix-up at the back proved costly for the youngsters as Obadin Aikhena got to the end of the loose ball in the penalty box and slammed it home for the equalising goal eight minutes before half-time.
Stunned by the goal, the Young Lions almost conceded a second two minutes later but fortunately Qiu Li’s shot went inches above the bar.
Head coach Darren Stewart’s words during the half time break must have worked its magic as his Balestier team came out of the dressing room with a renewed energy and were on the attacking gear for the next 45 minutes.
Although the Young Lions were trying their best to eke out a result, they were undone by their own mistakes at the back as Balestier got their second goal of the match six minutes past the hour mark.
Qiu took advantage of a miscommunication in the penalty box between Syazwan and Afiq that saw the ball fall nicely to the Singapore international, who only needed to tap it into an empty net.
The three points were sealed in the closing stages when assistant referee Tang Yew Mun flagged for a penalty after M. Anumanthan had brought down Ruhaizad Ismail.
Qiu added his second goal of the night and Balestier’s third as he made no mistake from the spot, sending the ball straight down the middle to seal the come-from-behind victory.