Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) clawed back from two goals down to hold Sapura to a 4-4 draw in a high intensity match of the TNBMHL 2015 Premier Division at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.
The draw – KLHC’s second in the league, derailed the 2010-2013 champions impeccable run in the 2015 season and K. Dharmaraj’s charges now face the toughest hurdle of ending double champions Terengganu Hockey Team’s (THT) dream run on Friday which will decide the eventual champions at the Batu Buruk Hockey Stadium in Kuala Terengganu.
Sarjit Singh’s THT leapfrogged KLHC to top the table standings with 24 points following a narrow 3-2 victory over Maybank on home turf tonight while KLHC amassed 23 points.
National forward Faizal Saari kept THT on top by the 38th minute from a penalty corner and added the second in the 55th (FG) before closing the day with a hat-trick (60th), making him the Premier Division’s leading scorer to date with 13 goals. Maybank replied through Muhammad Irfan (58th) and Hafifihafiz Hanafi (60th).
The east coast giants, however, hold the edge over KLHC going into the final lap of the Premier Division. Sapura, who held KLHC also to a 3-3 draw in the first leg, are poised to finish third in the six-team league ahead of Tenaga Nasional Berhad.
“The players took it easy and we were punished with two goals early in the game but we recovered to hold on to this draw despite having so many opportunities,” said Dharmaraj.
“A draw is as good as a defeat for me and we must now go to Terengganu looking for a win.”
“It would have been the entire better if we had sealed today’s match with a win. I am not looking at the 6-2 win over THT in the Charity Shield as any consolation before our match on Friday but THT were not what they have made out to be. They are capable of beating us by the same score and this is going to be a very tough match,” added Dharmaraj.
Dangerous Lee Mathew, a former national junior trainee, came on field in the sixth minute and took just two minutes to stun KLHC and national No 2 goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin with a field goal while Faridzul Afiq made it 2-0 by the 12th minute in similar fashion.
KLHC, dubbed the ‘Comeback Kings’, pulled one back through Mohd Syamim Mohd Yusof a minute later before Harvinder Singh leveled the score at 2-2 by the 15th minute – slotting the ball past goalkeeper Mohammed Hairi Abdul Rahman in a goal-mouth melee.
Lee, however, came back to haunt KLHC two minutes into the end of the second quarter with another field goal to give Sapura the lead for the third time before Norsyafiq Sumantri produced another of his scintillating performance to snuff the challenge out of KLHC with a 38th field goal, giving his side an unassailable 4-2 lead over one of the best teams in the league.
The match was, however, stopped in the 41st minute due to rain and upon resumption 30 minutes later it was KLHC who went on the offensive and were rewarded in the 53rd minute through Nabil Fiqri’s field goal and Pakistan’s Ali Shan continued the fight back to level 4-4 with a 57th penalty corner.
What was to be the biggest upset in the Premier Division by Sapura eventually turned anti-climax as KLHC went on to maintain their unbeaten run.
Meanwhile, TNB defeated Arul Selvaraj’s Universiti Kuala Lumpur 4-3 tonight. UniKL scorers are Muhammad Azwar Abdul Rahman (18th), S. Selvaraju (43nd) and Muhammad Najmi Farizal (52nd) while TNB replied through Muhammad Amirol Aideed (38th), Muhammad Shahril Saabah (41st), Muhammad Aminudin Mohd Zain (53rd) and Nik Muhammad Aiman (60th).
UniKL, however, will meet Maybank in the abandoned first-leg match on Wednesday before concluding their Premier Division fixtures against Sapura on Friday at the National Hockey Stadium.