Warriors Edge Tigers To End Losing Streak
Written by: Ryan Low
Warriors FC ended their two-match losing run as Dutch-Congolese forward Joel Tshibamba's early goal was enough to seal the three points against Balestier Khalsa in a televised 2017 Great Eastern- Hyundai S.League game on Friday night.
Balestier played for more than half an hour with nine men due to the dismissals of Sheikh Abdul Hadi and Huzaifah Aziz, but the Warriors were unable to produce a bigger win.
The deadlock was broken after just nine minutes, with Tshibamba rising the highest in the box to head home Jordan Webb’s cross from the left for his fifth goal of the season.
The Warriors could have gone two up just three minutes later, but Baihakki Khaizan’s header from Shahril Ishak’s outswinging corner was brilliantly tipped over by Zaiful Nizam.
Balestier did have a chance midway through the first half, but makeshift forward Tajeli Salamat fired over from a tight angle after being released by Aung Kyaw Naing.
The Tigers’ hopes of a comeback diminished in the 38th minute though as Hadi was given a straight red for violent conduct.
Marko Kraljevic’s side then went down to nine men 12 minutes into the second half, with Huzaifah given a second yellow for tugging down Ridhuan Muhammad outside the area.
From then on, it was one-way traffic for the Warriors but they somehow failed to put their chances away.
Substitute Fadhil Noh could have scored two minutes after coming on, but volleyed over from Ho Wai Loon’s deep cross from the left.
Kento Fukuda and Baihakki also went close to scoring but Zaiful was in fine form in between the sticks.
The final chance of the night fell to Poh Yi Feng deep into injury time, but he somehow fired wide of the left-hand post with just Zaiful to beat.
Those misses did not alter the result though as the Warriors claimed the three points to return to winning ways.
They remain fourth in the table and are five points behind leaders Albirex Niigata, although the latter has a game in hand.
Meanwhile Balestier remained in the bottom three after a fourth successive loss.
Warriors FC Head Coach Razif Onn: “I’m happy with the three points, but not so happy with not putting away our chances. We held the ball too long; there were a lot of nice crosses and there were players in front of the six-yard box, but no one anticipated to finish.
“It’s worrying for the team that we have so many chances, but cannot finish. In terms of goal difference, we are far away from the other teams. But I’m not going to criticise my team because they gave me the three points at the end of the day.”
Balestier Khalsa Head Coach Marko Kraljevic: “We made mistake for the first goal. The Warriors usually attack down the left side through Jordan and cross for the striker to head. We didn’t stop the two things - the cross from coming in and the striker to head. So we only have ourselves to blame.
“With two players down, we worked a bit extra and everyone was helping each other. As long as we kept it at 1-0, there’s always hope through counter attack and we were unlucky towards the end.”
Warriors FC: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Emmeric Ong, Baihakki Khaizan (C), Syaqir Sulaiman, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin (Ho Wai Loon 64’), Firdaus Kasman (Poh Yi Feng 86’), Kento Fukuda, Ridhuan Muhammad (Fadhil Noh 72’), Shahril Ishak, Jordan Webb, Joel Tshibamba Balestier Khalsa:
Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Ashrul Syafeeq, Huzaifah Aziz, Aung Kyaw Naing, Shah Hirul (Kyaw Zayar Win 53’), Raihan Rahman, Hazzuwan Halim, Hanafi Akbar (Jonathan Tan 69’), Tajeli Salamat (Hanafi Salleh 41’)