Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) gained an extra point over their Super League title rivals despite being held by Melaka United in a 1-1 draw at Hang Jebat Stadium on Saturday night. Jeon Woo Young's late equaliser cancelled out Safiq Rahim's opener for JDT but Pahang's defeat to Kelantan in the other match still made it a positive outing for the Southern Tigers.
JDT's Benjamin Mora was unequivocal in his post match reactions after the match that it was a wasted opportunity for his side not to take all three points but considering results elsewhere, remained pleased that they have extended their lead at the top of the table.
"Of course [points dropped]. We had 3 points in our the pocket. Slight mistake in our concentration, we concede a goal that gives us only one point."
"Still we add points to our standings because Pahang lost. At one side good because we added one point. But the game at the end, not very good," said Mora.
JDT could have scored more to make the game a complete mute point before Woo Young's intervention but the reigning champions squandered chances after chances to increase their lead during the match. Melaka's Fazli Paat made two point blank saves in the second half which turned out to be crucial in the grand scheme of the result.
When asked if JDT's profligacy in front of goal was what cost them a vital win, Mora acknowledged that it is a part of the game which his side still need to work on with recent results showing that his star-studded team still have flaws in them.
"You can analyse a lot of things in the game. Maybe if Gabby scored the one that hit the post, we win 3-0. We don't really know. If we go back every second into the game, a lot of things can change."
"The thing is, we need to learn how to close the games when we're winning. It happened to us over versus Pahang in the FA Cup. Last 3 minutes, they managed to score and we conceded and went out of the cup. This is a issue that we need to work on and need to fix. These things happen in football," added Mora.
With the absence of more established defensive names such as Aidil Zafuan and Fadhli Shas, Dominic Tan was thrown into the limelight for his first start in the league campaign. This is only his second start for JDT this season, with the other one in the game against Boeung Ket in the AFC Cup.
Dominic had a very positive first hour of the match but the lack of match practice meant that he started to show signs of tiredness. Jeon gave Dominic the slip in the 87th minute of the match to score the leveller but Mora refused to put the blame on the young centre back.
"No [not at fault]. Dominic did a great game. He's 19 years old, he's learning. Of course playing for JDT at this level is not easy. You need to have the mindset. You need to have training. Normally defenders at some point in the game, make some mistakes. It's normal in football."
"I don't think it is Dominic's mistake. You can analyse all the goals, come from things we didn't do well before. I don't blame nobody. I have to see the video again then I can make a better judgement to fix. But Dominic for me is a great player and a great prospect for JDT. He did a great job," explained Mora.
Mora went on to stress that with 10 matches remaining in the league season, JDT will be doing all they can to ensure that their title rivals would not be able to catch up. The Mexican will continue to improve the team as they seek their fourth consecutive league title.
"We're doing ok. We're doing fine. We're top of the league with 6 points, it means 2 games. But we're not going to sit back. We're not going to hold back. We're going hold the advantage with skills, with mindset and fight."