Warriors FC revived their flailing S.League title hopes with an unconvincing 1-0 win against Balestier Khalsa in a televised clash at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night.
A Joel Tshibamba early goal was enough for the Warriors to end a two-game losing streak. They somehow failed to win by a larger scoreline, despite Balestier playing with nine men for more than half an hour.
Balestier did carve out the first opportunity of the night after seven minutes, with Tajeli Selamat firing straight at Hyrulnizam Juma'at after playing a quick one-two with Hanafi Akbar.
He would live to rue that miss as Warriors opened the scoring just two minutes later. Tshibamba rose the highest in the box to nod home Jordan Webb's cross from the left for his fifth goal of the season.
Raziff Onn's men could have doubled their lead in the 12th minute when Baihakki connected with Shahril Ishak's outswinging corner, but Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam tipped the header over.
Balestier did get another chance on 19 minutes, with Tajeli blazing over from a tight angle after being released by Aung Kyaw Naing.
However, the Tigers' hopes of a comeback were dealt a blow seven minutes before half-time, with centre-back Sheikh Abdul Hadi given a straight red card for throwing a punch at Firdaus Kasman.
Marko Kraljevic's side were reduced to nine men on 57 minutes, with left-back Huzaifah Aziz given a second yellow for tugging down Ridhuan Muhammad outside the area.
With their numerical advantage, the Warriors dominated the final half-hour, but somehow failed to put their chances away.
Substitute Fadhil Noh somehow fired over from close range after being found by a teasing Ho Wai Loon cross, while Kento Fukuda and Baihakki Khaizan saw their goal-bound efforts denied by Zaiful.
Poh Yi Feng then found himself free in the box deep into injury time, but somehow fired wide of the left-hand post with just the keeper to beat.
Those misses did not matter in the end though, as the Warriors got the precious three points to reignite their title hopes.
The uniformed outfit are now five points behind leaders Albirex Niigata (S), having played a game more, and remain fourth in the nine-team table.
Warriors FC: Hyrulnizam Juma'at (GK), Emmeric Ong, Baihakki Khaizan (C), Syaqir Sulaiman, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin (Ho Wai Loon 64'), Firdaus Kasman (Poh Yi Feng 86'), Kento Fukuda, Ridhuan Muhammad (Fadhil Noh 72'), Shahril Ishak, Jordan Webb, Joel Tshibamba
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Ashrul Syafeeq, Huzaifah Aziz, Aung Kyaw Naing, Shah Hirul (Kyaw Zayar Win 53'), Raihan Rahman, Hazzuwan Halim, Hanafi Akbar (Jonathan Tan 69'), Tajeli Selamat (Hanafi Salleh 41')