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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Lucky escape!

New Sabah Times
FIRST MATCH … Sabahawks (blue/red) and KL SPA Putrajaya FC players in the thick of action during their Premier League clash at the Likas Stadium.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabahawks kicked off their Premier League challenge on the right footing after they escaped with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over new kids on the block KL SPA Putrajaya FC at the Likas Stadium yesterday. Despite being in the business for ages where they should be miles ahead of their rather raw opponents, but things turned out to be otherwise for the hosts as they were forced to struggle all the way until the final whistle.

 In fact, the match could have gone either way, and the visitors must be cursing their luck or rather the incompetency of the match officials that denied them from nicking at least a draw or even a surprise victory. They had at least two genuine penalty calls that were not given, compared to two awarded to Sabahawks, with one going in and the other missing the target.

 When approached after the match, Sabahawks head coach David McCreery admitted it was not the kind of show he had expected from his boys. While happy with the three points, McCreery, who watched the tie from the fans stand, could not hide his disappointment, as the Sabahawks looked lost and hapless at times without direction.

 “Overall, I’m disappointed, but happy with the result, and that is what you want. This was only our first game, and the players showed their character. McCreery said they need to improve for their next game, before stressing that their flanks will be an area that needs urgent improvement. Sabahawks started the afternoon game brightly as Shahrul Azhar Ture put them ahead with his fifth minute freekick from just outside the box.

 KL SPA could have drawn level four minutes later, but fortunately for Sabahawks Sazali Suwandi’s 25 metre freekick hit the crossbar with Sabahawks No 1 Shahril Sa’ari already beaten. As the match approached the 18th minute mark, KL SPA Putrajaya FC had a genuine penalty call that was not given when Sabahawks’ Mohd Farid Saibun seemed to have fouled Muhamad Azry Abdul Rahman inside the penalty box.

 However, the match official merely gave KL SPA Putrajaya FC a freekick from the edge of the penalty box that went wide. Then in the 23rd minute, Muhamad Azry saw his attempt from inside the box go inches wide. Three minutes later, KL SPA Putrajaya had another genuine penalty call when Rosli Muda was brought down inside the penalty box, but instead of earning a spot kick, he was shown a yellow card believed to be for simulation.

 But it was not long after when KL SPA Putrajaya found the much needed equaliser when Sabahawks’ Rhys David Weston put the ball into his own net when trying to make a clearance. Sabahawks should have restored their lead when they were awarded a penalty, but unfortunately, Sharudin Yakup’s weak attempt was saved by the keeper as the opening 45 minutes ended one-all.

 There was not much action in the second half until late on. It all started after Sabahawks restored their lead in the 71st minute with Shahrul Azhar Ture netted his second, but this time from the spot. There were a few anxious moments for the visitors as they showed their never say die attitude, but Sabahawks, despite their unconvincing opener held on until the end. Next the Sabahawks take on KL Sime Darby away on Friday.

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