Balestier seal top-six berth after Harimau Muda rout

Balestier Khalsa sealed their place in the top six of the S.League on Friday evening after cruising to a 5-1 win over Harimau Muda at the Pasir Gudang Corporation Stadium.

It took the Marko Kraljevic’s charges just nine minutes to open the scoring when Ruhaizad Ismail fired home a freekick, before Goran Ljubojevic doubled their advantage four minutes later.

Zulkiffli Hassim then added a third for the visitors five minutes into the second half to put them firmly in control of proceedings, although both sides were reduced to ten men in the 57th minute when Balestier midfielder Poh Yi Feng and Harimau Muda counterpart Qayyum Marjoni Sabil were both issued their marching orders.

To their credit, the hosts managed to pull one back five minutes after the hour mark when Syazwan Zaipol Bahari found the back of the net to keep alive their hopes of staging a late comeback.

However, those were extinguished in the 73rd minute when Ljubojevic scored his second of the evening – and 17th league goal of the season – before Muhaymin Salim came off the bench and found the back of the net three minutes later to round off the scoring for his side.

The win meant Balestier overtook Hougang United in sixth place due to their superior goal difference, after both sides finished the first two rounds of the campaign level on 33 points.

It also meant the Tigers will finish in the top half of the table for the third season running; an impressive feat given they appeared to be destined for the bottom six for most of the season before a stunning late charge saw them claim ten points from their last four matches.

Meanwhile, Hougang will be left rueing their failure to earn a spot in the top six after losing their last three matches, despite needing only a point to keep Balestier at bay.

Harimau Muda: Ramdhan Hamid, Ashmawi Yakin, Syawal Nordin, Abdullah Suleiman, Qayyum Marjoni Sabil, Nor Azam Azih, Azrul Nizam Muhammad, Faris Shah Rosli, Shahrul Igwan Samsudin, Asri Mardzuki, Hardee Shamsuri.

Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam, Yusiskandar Yusop, Emir Lotinac, Jaslee Hatta, Nurullah Hussein, Poh Yi Feng, Jonathan Xu, Ruhaizad Ismail, Park Kang-jin, Zulkiffli Hassim, Goran Ljubojevic.

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