Second straight win for Home, but Aw unhappy
Ken Ilso’s first-half penalty was enough to separate the two sides in a scrappy game at the Toa Payoh Stadium on Sunday night.
The Protectors dominated the first half, creating a number of opportunities before breaking the deadlock on 35 minutes.
With Emir Lotinac adjudged to have impeded Juma’at Jantan inside the area, Ilso stepped up and calmly converted past Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam for his third goal of the season.
However, they lost their lustre in the second half, allowing Balestier to come at them on a few occasions.
Passes often went astray, with Ilso starved of the service to flourish upfront.
The Tigers threatened to level matters in the last 10 minutes, with Sadic Smajovic first breaking free inside the area before firing straight at Home custodian Zulfairuuz Rudy.
Then there was a goalmouth melee after Home failed to clear their lines, but three Balestier players were unable to get a decent shot in.
Deep into injury time, there is the peculiar sight of Zaiful stepping up for a dead ball after Sheikh Abdul Hadi was brought down just outside the box.
Fortunately for Home, the well-struck effort got a deflection off the Home wall before landing on the top of the net.
Speaking after the game, Aw expressed displeasure on his side’s second-half display as well as the condition of the Toa Payoh pitch.
“We expected to come here to scrap a win, because it’s never easy beating a physical Balestier side,” the coach said. “They gave us problems in the second half and some were self-created, to be honest.”
“On behalf of the team, I will like to tell the fans that the second half wasn’t enjoyable and we promise to make it up in the next game against Albirex Niigata (S).
“Also we have to grind out a result on this field. How man? How do we play good football? The ball’s always bouncing, the pitch’s hard, bumpy and the grass’s not even. Sorry, but we need better fields to play better football.
“If we want to be serious in improving local football, then the people taking care of the fields have to be serious as well.”
Meanwhile, Balestier counterpart Marko Kraljevic remains satisfied of his side’s efforts, despite continuing their winless start to the season.
“All of them have been working very hard this year,” said the German-Croat. “It’s just that we’ve struggled in front of goal. We created so many chances, but just do not have the killer touch:”
“Next game against Tampines (Rovers) will be tough for us, but there’s no easy game in the league this year.
“(Miroslav) Kristic just came back and played 60 minutes today, maybe next game he’ll play 80 minutes and slowly progress from there.”