Champions Balestier face early exit; Woodlands off the mark

Defending champions Balestier Khalsa are on the brink of an early exit from the Singapore League Cup after playing out a 2-2 draw with DPMM FC on Friday evening.

The Tigers, who opened their Group D campaign on Tuesday with a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Hougang United, needed a win to firmly keep alive their hopes of making the knockout round.

But following a goalless first half at the Jalan Besar Stadium, it was DPMM who took the lead in the 57th minute when Rodrigo Tosi scored from the penalty spot, after Emir Lotinac had handled the ball inside the area.

However, Balestier managed to pull level nine minutes after the hour mark when Syed Thaha found space down the left and whipped a terrific cross to Goran Ljubojevic, who made no mistake in volleying home from two yards out.

The Bruneian outfit did reclaim their lead in the 78th minute when they hit their opponents on the counter; Joe Gamble breaking forward on the overlap before lofting a cross to the back post for Roy O’Donovan to smash past Zaiful Nizam.

Nonetheless, the Tigers went on to force the draw seven minutes from time when opposition keeper Wardun Yussof could only parry Kim Min-ho’s stinging shot back into the danger area, allowing Ljubojevic to nip in ahead of Gamble and stab the loose ball home.

Still, with just one point to their name after concluding their group-stage campaign, Marko Kraljevic’s charges will need DPMM to suffer at least a three-goal defeat to Hougang on Monday for them to have any chance of progressing.

Over in Group C, Woodlands Wellington got their campaign up and running after toiling to a 1-0 win over Singapore Recreation Club.

The only goal of the game came a minute before the half-hour mark when Bah Mamadou headed home a corner from Oswind Suriya, handing the Rams maximum points in the process.

DPMM FC: Wardun Yussof, Joe Gamble, Abdul Aziz Tamit, Boris Raspudic, Azwan Saleh, Rosmin Kamis, Awangku Fakharazzi (Hendra Azam 46’), Roberto Alviz, Rodrigo Tosi, Roy O’Donovan, Adi Said (Shahrazen Said 81’).

Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam, Poh Yi Feng, Emir Lotinac, Nurullah Hussein, Syed Thaha, Alando Nicholas (Tajeli Salamat 53’), Jonathan Xu, Muhaymin Salim (Ahmad Syahir 62’), Park Kang-jin, Kim Min-ho, Goran Ljubojevic.

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