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August 22, 2012 8:45 PM MYT
Stadium Petaling Jaya — Petaling Jaya
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PKNS 1-1 Johor FA: Both teams share the spoils

PKNS and Johor shared the spoils in their first Malaysia Cup match in a highly entertaining encounter played out at Stadium MBPJ in Petaling Jaya

By Mark Dawson

PKNS FC, vs Johor FC, Yellow Card, Malaysia, Malaysian Super League
Dunia Sukan Online

PKNS and Johor shared the spoils in their first Malaysia Cup match in a highly entertaining encounter played out at Stadium MBPJ in Petaling Jaya.  It was PKNS who dominated the first half and found themselves unfortunate to not be ahead at the break after fashioning out several chances.  However it was Johor who took the lead in the 76th minute through an Orlando penalty after PKNS captain Fadhil was adjudged to have handled in the area.  PKNS took a deserved share of the spoils following a 30 yard effort from man of the match Mickael Joseph Nicoise.

The match started off evenly and it didn’t take long for both teams to have a sight of goal.  With as little as two minutes on the clock Johor’s central midfielder Ashadi Yusoff fired high over the bar from the edge of the box.  PKNS responded immediately with right-winger Mohd Azrif striking a fine first time volley just over the bar following a beautiful cross field pass.  Soon after the pattern of the game emerged with PKNS dominating the midfield and dictating play through Frenchman Helmi Loussaief, while Johor looked to capitalise on the strength and aerial dominance of Argentine forward Muriel Orlando who was causing Mohd Faizal all sorts of problems.

PKNS began to step up the pressure on their opponents and forward Rudie Ramli went close in the 18th minute following a fine counter attack, however his sweet right-foot curled effort just floated over Kumar’s crossbar.  Ramli again went close on 20 minutes when through on goal after the ball took a fortunate bounce following good build up play by Nicoise, however he failed to trouble the goal after rushing his left-footed shot and screwed wide.  PKNS had their best opportunity of the half in the 28th minute when Faizal sprung the Johor offside trap following a free kick from the right, but he managed to blaze over under no pressure with the goal at his mercy. 

Nicoise who had been growing into the game then began to stamp his authority on proceedings.  He screwed wide from a tight angle in the 29th minute following a lofted ball over the top of the Johor defence, then after being felled on the edge of the box, he curled a low shot around the wall which Kumar had to scramble to keep out.  Nicoise had further chances in the 34th and 35th minute respectively, firstly he flashed the ball wide after the ball had been half cleared following a PKNS corner before seeing his low near post effort again turner away by Kumar after good link-up play between him and fellow Frenchman Loussaief.

Johor were struggling to get into the game as their direct balls to forwards Orlando and Fauzzi were being comfortably dealt with by the PKNS defence.  Orlando did remind the home team of his danger in the 37th minute with a low shot that was saved by Razi following a failed clearance by Helmi Remeli. It was Nicoise who had the last chance of the half but his free kick from 30 yards sailed over the bar untouched in stoppage time.

The second half began in a much tighter fashion with Johor sitting deeper behind the ball eager not to allow space in behind their backline.  The home team again upped the tempo though, firstly with Loussaief blasting over the bar following more good wing play by Azrif in the 57th minute, then a minute later PKNS wasted another free header on goal, this time Remeli headed wide following an exquisite free kick from Nicoise on the left touch line.

Johor, continually cheered on by their rapturous support, began to create more chances as the game became stretched and PKNS’s central midfield pairing of Loussaief and Mohd Fauzan tired.  Orlando again rose above the defence in the 68th minute following a great cross by Muhamad Tuah Iskandar, however he could only steer his header wide.  Johor had their best opportunity of the night so far in the 69th minute when substitute Hadin worked his way into the area following poor defending from Rajesh and Mohd Faizal, but Razi got down well to make a crucial low stop.

Just when the game looked as if it may be petering out into a draw Johor were awarded a shock penalty in the 75th minute after PKNS captain Muhd Fadhil was considered to have handled in the area after winning the ball from Johor midfielder Ezrie who had burst into the area.  Despite the protests of the home team it was the Argentinean Orlando who calmly sent the keeper the wrong way to put the away side ahead.

It seemed as if PKNS would receive a penalty of their own in the 79th minute after substitute Muhd Fakrul went down in the Johor area, however following a delay referee Denis Ak Sayeng booked the midfielder for simulation.  The home side stepped up the pressure, Azrif had his low shot palmed away by Kumar following a through ball from Nicoise, and then moments later his cut back from the right evaded everyone.  However PKNS were not to be denied and it was Frenchman Nicoise who got the goal his play deserved in the 81st minute with an unstoppable 30 yard effort low to the keepers right hand side.

Following this both sides huffed and puffed in their attempt to find the winner, however the game was getting increasingly broken up as referee Sayeng became more and more fussy.  Nicoise had the final opportunity of the game with five minutes remaining, however his curled free kick was comfortable for Kumar to save.

Overall a satisfactory result for both teams.  PKNS will be disappointed at not securing all three points in a game they dominated, however if could have been much worse for them being a goal down with only ten minutes left.  They have Frenchman Nicoise to thank for rescuing them and they need to ensure in future games that they do not keep him isolated as they did in the second half.  For Johor it was a positive result away from home against top level opponents, they may not be able to go all the way in the competition but they may cause a few surprises along the way, especially if Muriel Orlando can hit form.

Man of the Match - Mickael Joseph Nicoise (PKNS)

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