PDRM 1-1 Pahang: Elephants seal vital away goal in Paroi
Pahang secured an away goal in the first leg of their FA Cup Quarter Final clash against PDRM, courtesy of Matias Conti’s equalizer
Malaysia FA CUP (Quarter Final)
Stadium Darul Makmur | 26 january 2014
Both sides kicked the game off on a positive note, with passes being sprayed all throughout the pitch in the early stages of the game. Both sides knew they could not underestimate each other, and they did push upfront cautiously though. Pahang registered the first shot of the game, with Hafiz Kamal’s free kick attempt being saved easily by the PDRM goalie.
Gopinathan, who has been a solid attacking outlet for Pahang this season, used his pace to exploit PDRM via the flanks. Within the first six minutes, Gopi outpaced the PDRM fullback on three difference occassions, but his cross was not stellar to say the least.
Sabre Abu had a wild attempt at goal on the 11th minute, but it predictably sailed way over the bar. Gopi then found more space on the left, but cross was not picked up by Conti, and PDRM made them pay just one minute later. Chad Souza fired home from close range to strike first blood for Dollah’s Salleh’s men, giving them the lead on the 13th minute.
Ashfaq Ali was the liveliest player for PDRM, with his intelligent runs off the ball troubling Pahang’s defenders. Zesh Rehman in particular struggled to deal with the Maldivian’s pace and was caught off guard on a couple of occassions. On the 27th minute, Ashfaq overpowered Zesh to surge into the box, but his final product was certainly not up to standard as it went wide off target.
Five minutes later, Ashfaq made another surging run, this time down the right flank, but he appeared to be tripped by Zesh inside the box, thought the referee ignored pleas for penalty. Pahang’s midfield combo of Azidan and Hafiz Kamal were struggling to dissect PDRM open, and chances were hard to come by as a result.
Just before half time though, PDRM could have doubled their lead, but Chad’s free kick from outside the box missed the target by inches. Having said that, the home side did go into half time with a slender, but valuable advantage over Pahang.
Ron Smith went for the kill by introducing Dickson Nwakaeme for the second half, taking Zesh Rehman off. Dickson’s physical presence offered a stronger threat for Pahang, with Conti featuring on the flanks. But even then, PDRM continued to be dangerous.
Bobby Gonzales had a shot that was saved brilliantly by Khairul Azhan, before Chad’s header was also tipped away to safety by the Pahang custodian. On the other end, Dickson had one shot that fizzled wide off the post, while Gopinathan’s grounder was parried away by the PDRM goalie.
On the 60th minute, Pahang came so close to an equalizer. Azidan Sarudin found space on the right, before curling a delightful cross into the box. Dickson did amazingly well to connect with it, but his powerful header went directly into the hands of Azidon Kadir.
But as Pahang kept pushing, they finally got their equalizer just before the 80th minute mark. Matias Conti took full advantage of a defensive mix-up by finding the back of net from inside the penalty box, to restore parity for the Elephants.
On the 83rd minute, Pahang were gifted a free-kick position just outside the box. Azidan and Dickson stood over the ball, but the Nigerian forward ultimately tried his luck, though the attempt sailed directly towards Azizon Kadir. Pahang already had the coveted away goal, but they were looking for more than that as they pushed upfront relentlessly.
On the 90th minute mark, Dickson could have sealed a massive win for Pahang, but his acrobatic attempt was saved brilliantly by the PDRM goalie. Nonetheless, the score remained 1-1 at full time, with the Elephants going home as the happier side with one away goal ahead of the second leg next week.