LionsXII left it late to defeat a determined T-Team after Shahdan Sulaiman’s spot-kick conversion makes up for Shahril Ishak’s miss
Both LionsXII coach V. Sundramoorthy and T-Team coach Yunus Alif had been looking to bounce back from midweek exits in the Malaysia FA Cup to Terengganu and Kedah respectively.
For the LionsXII, Sundram was able to welcome back captain and midfielder Shahril Ishak into the first 11, while he was able to fill his entire bench after he was forced to play with just four substitutes in midweek.
Shahdan Sulaiman unleashed a warning shot in the first minute at the T-Team goal, which would be a sign of how the match would eventually pan out.
But the LionsXII looked vulnerable in the minutes immediately following the chance, with T-Team players Fadzly Saari and Mohd Dzaiddin combining well in the sixth and 14th minutes to test goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma’at.
Hyrulnizam has been deputising for the injured Izwan Mahbud and had looked solid in prior matches, although he appeared rather shaky today.
Sundram would have worried that the injury crisis might not have abated when he was forced to replace Sufian Anuar in the 16th minute with Agu Casmir, but thankfully that was the only injury-related substitution that he had to make for the rest of the game.
From then on the LionsXII increasingly dominated. Shahdan made a fantastic cross from the halfway line to the right flank for Irwan Shah, but the latter’s pass into the penalty box was wasteful.
Shahril Ishak then had several good opportunities but was stopped by the referee - first for being harshly adjudged to have brought the ball over the by-line, and the second for definitely lurking into an offside position.
Shahril then had the best opportunity in the first half - Agu Casmir made a brilliant through pass to Irwan Shah, who squared it to his captain, but he was only able to fire straight at Iqbal who cleared the ball for a corner.
After dominating the latter part of the first half, the LionsXII finally found a breakthrough by captain Shahril, who got on the end of a pinpoint cross from Shahdan Sulaiman near the halfway line, and lobbed the ball past the goalkeeper for his eighth goal of the season.
But the celebrations were to be shortlived for the LionsXII as T-Team captain Zairo Anuar scored three minutes later. Hyrulnizam Juma’at made a poor decision in running out of the box to catch Badrul Hisani’s cross and was stranded when the ball ended up to Zairo, who made no mistake in slotting the ball into the far side of the net.
The LionsXII must have thought they were gifted a goal when Madhu Mohana was adjudged to have been fouled by Dzaiddin in the penalty box, but Shahril Ishak fluffed his shot in front of the LionsXII fans at the King George’s Stand.
Yasir Hanapi then replaced Shahril in the 71st minute, before the T-Team was beset with an unfortunate triple substitution of injuries: Fadzly Saari, Wan Khairul, and Badrul Hisani were all stretchered off in relatively quick succession.
The LionsXII continued to push forward for a goal and were finally rewarded after T-Team defender Norfazly bin Alias was penalised and booked for a foul in the penalty box. This time, Shahdan Sulaiman stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way as he scored what would be the winning goal for the Lions.
The Lions next travel to face Negeri Sembilan on Tuesday.