| SINGAPORE (29 June 2010) – Kazuki Yoshino’s moment of madness in the second half cost Woodlands Wellington all three points as they collapsed to a 2-1 loss at home to Balestier Khalsa in the S-League’s only game on the weekend.
Paul Cunningham and Rivaldo Costa took advantage of the hosts’ defensive confusion following the Japanese defender’s dismissal to cancel out Shahri Musa’s first-half goal.
Tigers head coach Nasaruddin Jalil was pleased to see his side earn three precious points, but felt the finishing left much to be desired.
“Three points was good for us and we played well,” said the former national midfielder.
“Despite creating a number of chances, we made things difficult for ourselves as we wasted them.
“We need to learn to be more patient and composed in the final third. In the first half, it was not precise enough, but we improved in the second half.”
The result was the Tigers’ first victory since the start of the month, and allowed them to leapfrog Beijing Guoan into eighth place, while their opponents remained second from bottom.
Both sides came into the game searching for a win after respective spells of poor form in June.
The home side were without injured starters Syed Karim and top-scorer Abdelhadi Laakkad, while skipper Daniel Hammond, Ishak Zainol and Goh Swee Swee were unavailable for the visitors.
Taking over the armband for the night, Cunningham led by example as Balestier took control of the game from the start.
The New Zealander provided the game’s first attempt when his 35-yard free kick stretched Woodlands goalkeeper Fajar Sarib.
The Tigers’ failure to convert their early chances came back to haunt them when Shahri took advantage of slack marking in the six-yard box to head home off a Rizawan Abdullah cross on 33 minutes.
Woodlands nearly doubled their advantage five minutes after the break, when former Balestier forward Rizawan was afforded the time and space in the box to shoot but sent his effort wide.
Balestier’s persistent attacking pressure was too much for one Woodlands man to take when Yoshino fouled Vitor Borges to concede a free kick on the right on 62 minutes.
Referee Zaid Hussein initially dished out a booking to the centreback, but alleged vulgar abuse forced him with little choice but to give a follow-up straight red.
From the resulting set-piece, Cunningham forced the ball home at close range to equalise for Balestier on 64 minutes.
Balestier’s leading scorer Costa piled further misery on the home side when he rifled home a low grounder on the edge of the box to give his side the lead five minutes later.
Woodlands coach A. Shasi Kumar acknowledged the sending-off undid his side’s earlier hard work and put them on the back foot.
“Of course, it was the turning point of the game,” said the disappointed coach. “We were controlling the game before he came off.
“Playing with ten men made it worse for us. The player who scored from the free kick was the man he was supposed to be marking (had he remained on the pitch).”