Arion FA produce brilliant comeback to clinch third place

After fighting back from a goal down twice, Arion earned a late penalty against Police to dramatically gain a 3-2 win as well as third place in the FAS Women’s Challenge Cup

Arion FA put their defeat in the FAS Women’s Challenge Cup semi-final last week behind them on Sunday night to produce a great comeback and earn a 3-2 victory over Police Sports Association Women’s (PA) in the third/fourth-placing match.

PA had initially taken the lead twice, but were pegged back by Arion each time before conceding an injury-time penalty that Chris Yip-Au duly converted to win the game for Arion.

It was a fairly open game that saw PA race to an early lead in the ninth minute, and the uniformed team could have easily extended their advantage had they been more clinical.

Azean Adam had capitalised on Arion centre-back Li Jing’s mistake to find herself in a one-on-one with goalkeeper Mira Shahidah. However, Azean dallied on pulling the trigger and allowed Mira to stop the ball at her feet.

The forward then again wasted a good chance minutes later when she had ample time and space in the box to hit the target, but she blazed the ball over under little pressure.

PA would soon pay for their profligacy just before the break as Arion top-scorer Yip-Au sent a superb curler into the top corner from an acute angle to draw them level.       

However, PA again regained the lead in the 59th minute when Azean capitalised on yet another poor clearance by Li to power one past Mira.

After conceding the second goal, Arion showed more urgency around the box and their efforts yielded dividends when Angeline Chua slammed one in following a low cross from Lim Shiya in the 78th minute.

With extra time looming as the game looked set to end in a stalemate, a penalty was awarded to Arion when Yeong Sheau Shyan was pulled down by Marilou Rubio. Yip-Au duly converted the spot-kick to give Arion the lead for the first time in the game.

PA desperately tried to equalise in the remaining four minutes of injury time and came close when Vaanmathi Arumoha's low shot sailed just wide of the far post, but Arion firmly held on to earn third place in the tournament.

Arion coach Benjamin Ho was effusive in his praise for his team for clinching third place in such an impressive manner, and thought his side were worthy winners.

“We showed real character today, coming back from being a goal down each time and constantly being on the back foot, to come back in the last minute showed real character,” Ho told reporters.

“You can say Police wanted this as much as us, credit to Police but our girls fought tooth and nail to the end and we thoroughly deserved this.”

Despite losing, PA coach Azmi Bin Othman was happy at the entertaining display of football and felt that it helped ease the pain of the loss.

“As a coach when we want to win third place, we are definitely disappointed,” Azmi said.

“But one thing I like about this game is that even though we are fourth, I think this is a very entertaining game. If in future we have this type of matches. we are going to pull in the crowd to support the teams.”