SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE
Balestier Khalsa 1
Young Lions 0
He missed the last six matches with an ankle injury and how Balestier Khalsa have missed their star striker Keegan Linderboom.
The 1.88m New Zealander marked his return from injury yesterday by scoring the winner against the Young Lions at the Toa Payoh Stadium, helping the Tigers snap a seven-game winless run in the Singapore Premier League (SPL).
The 28-year-old caused all sorts of problems for Young Lions' centre-back pairing of Irfan Fandi and R. Aaravin, and opened the scoring with a deft header in the 37th minute.
At the opposite end, national goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam was also outstanding, making a number of eye-catching saves to keep a clean sheet.
The Young Lions came closest to finding an equaliser in the 62nd minute when Rusyaidi Salime's free kick crashed off the crossbar, and Hami Syahin's header off the rebound was tipped over the bar by Zaiful.
The 31-year-old custodian also pulled off a stunning save off Ikhsan Fandi's wicked volley from outside the box in the 73rd minute.
Home 1 Albirex Niigata 1
Tampines 1 Hougang 0
Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic paid tribute to his stars, saying: "When Keegan plays, the presence he has up front makes a lot of difference to the team. Scoring the winning goal is the best way to come back from an injury, and he did that. And we kept a clean sheet mainly because of Zaiful."
Young Lions coach Fandi was also impressed by the two Balestier heroes, but felt that his charges had done enough to earn at least a draw.
"We had three or four chances, but Zaiful was the man," said the 56-year-old, who is also the national coach.
"As for (Linderboom), he's strong and physical, and it means a lot to the team to have a key player like him back.
"But we created many chances, they did not. I'm a bit upset now for the boys."
With the win, Balestier stayed sixth, three points ahead of the Young Lions in seventh.