TNB put on gallant fightback to snatch late draw

Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) left it late before snatching a well deserved 2-2 draw against Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) in their TNB Malaysian Premier Hockey League match at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Association (KLHA) Stadium in Jalan Pantai on Sunday.

It was the second match on the trot, and against weaker and younger opposition, that KLHC dropped points after a 1-1 match against Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) on Friday.

But nothing should be taken away from TNB, as their gallant second half display showed that they have the motivation and drive to battle it out with the best in the league.

In other Premier League matches played, Sapura beat Terengganu Hockey Team 2-0 and Maybank came back from a goal down to beat UniKL 2-1 at KLHA.

The win sees Sapura go top of the league with nine points, KLHC are second with eight points, Maybank are third on six, THT and UniKL have four points each while TNB are bottom with 2 points.

KLHC went ahead through a well taken field goal from Spanish striker Pedro Lopez-Alonso in the fifth minute. The Kuala Lumpur side was running the show in the first half with Pakistan’s Mohd Umar Bhutta and Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor proving a handful for the TNB midfield and defenders.

TNB’s first real chance of the match came in the 21st minute when Arif Sabron broke free in the box, but KLHC goalkeeper Muhd Shafie was quick off his mark to clear the danger.

KLHC then went 2-0 up when South Korean flicker Hyunwoo Nam expertly placed his shot in the top left corner in the 39th minute, his second goal in as many matches.

Muhd Shafie came to KLHC’s rescue again, when he left his line early to challenge TNB’s Mohd Hafizhuddin Zaidi and cleared the danger.

TNB finally got the goal they deserve in the 53rd minute when Syed Mohd Syafiq Syed Cholan blasted home his penalty corner to the top right of the goal.

Minutes later, TNB had a chance to level the match after some excellent dribbling from Nik Mohd Aiman on the right, but his pass across the goal mouth was cleared by the defence with Muhd Shafie well beaten.

TNB got the goal they deserved for an inspired second half fightback when Muhd Firdaus Omar deflected his shot in from a powerful shot into the box in the final minute of play.

Coach Muhd Amin Rahim was more than pleased with his team’s performance, especially as since it follows another strong showing in the 4-4 draw against THT on Friday.

“I am very happy with our performance. Against THT we played very well as well, and that is what is important for us. They are a superior side to us and giving them a run for their money is the most important thing. A win is a bonus, and a draw is like a win for us,” said Mohamad Amin.

For KLHC, the result will give coach Muhd Harun Al-Rahid Samri a lot more to ponder as his team failed yet again to take advantage against their rivals, despite taking the lead.

“There is just not enough time to recover between matches as they are very close. We travel to Terengganu tonight and play THT in the Tan Sri Alagendra Cup on Tuesday. After that, I will have time to address this issue.

“Hopefully, when I highlight this problem to the players, they will recognise and understand it.  To me, as long as we give the opponents room to play and not close them down, we are giving them room to get back into the match,” added Muhd Harun.

At the Tun Razak Hockey Stadium, Sapura stunned defending champions THT with penalty corner goals from Firhan Ashari in 23rd minute and Oscar William Wookey in the 30th minute.

In the late match at Jalan Pantai, UniKL went ahead in the fifth minute through Australian striker Adrian Coster’s field goal but Maybank hit back through import flicker Juan Valeriano in the 15th and 41st minute.

Meanwhile, the race for the Division One title moves into top gear with three teams in a neck-to-neck race as the league enters into the final lap of the first round today.

Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) defeated ATM Airod 6-2 on home turf to take over the top spot from TNB Thunderbolt in the standings with 12 points after Thunderbolt were held to a 4-4 draw by Nur Insafi in Sungai Petani, Kedah.

Thunderbolts catapulted to the top of the TNBMHL 2016 Division One challenge on Friday by brushing off Ipoh Municipal Council (MBI) 4-1 but failed to continue the momentum today against Nur Insafi and the one point earned puts them second behind SSTMI.

Politeknik Malaysia also played to a 1-1 draw against Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM-KPT) at the Tun Razak Stadium and amassed 11 points to go third in the chart. At the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium, Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) thrashed Municipal Council (MBI) 7-3 for their first ever win in the league in six matches. BJSS led 4-3 by the third quarter.

ATM Airod opened scoring in the seventh minute against SSTMI through Mohd Szuhairi Kamal before SSTMI struck back with goals from Kamaruddin Kodir Beraheng (15th and 54th) and Azhad Akmal (26th and 28th) while Mohamad Hanis Saad (35th) and Zulhamizan Awang Abas (53rd) scored one apiece. ATM’s second goal came from Mohamad Nain Mohamad Joher in the 36th minute off a field goal.

TNB Thunderbolt led 4-3 by the fourth quarter until Pakistani Kashif Ali scored a hat-trick to equalize for Nur Insafi in the 52 minute from a penalty corner to share the spoils. He had earlier scored penalty corner goals in the 32nd and 37th minutes while Nur Rahull Hriskesa added one (29th minute), his fourth goal in the league.

Muhamad Idris Samad scored a brace for Thunderbolt (28th and 35th minutes) with Hazzim Amin Hafidz (17th) and Faiq Razin Zariq (50th) contributing to towards Thunderbolt’s goals.

Three Division 1 teams – Politeknik Malaysia, SSTMI and ATM Airod will go into action on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the TNBMHL Knockout tournament for Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup.

Politeknik Malaysia faces SSTMI at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Baru and ATM Airod entertains Premier League outfit Sapura Hockey Club at the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium in Jalan Pantai.

Results – Premier League: KLHC 2 TNB 2; Sapura 2 THT 2; UniKL 1 Maybank 2.

Division One: Nur Insafi 4 TNB Thunderbolt 4; ATM Airod 2 SSTMI 6; UiTM-PKT 1 Politeknik Malaysia 1; MPI 3 BJSS 7.

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