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Thursday, January 14, 2010

"TURTLES" triumph in IPOH

Terengganu chalked up their first victory in the 2010 Super League season after a 3-1 win over host Perak at the Ipoh Stadium last night. Last season topscorer for the Turtles Ashaari Shamsuddin scored on both halves, sandwiching Firdaus Fauzi strike in between. Perak reply came from Saufi Saad strike just before the hour mark.

The match started slowly with both teams treading cautiously on the wet pitch. However, Firdaus who was starting his first match for Terengganu hit the post from close range in the 2nd minute but the former Perlis striker had been flagged offside. However Irfan Bakti's men went ahead after sixteen minutes when Perak defence lost the ball to Abdul Manaf Mamat who found Firdaus with a low pass. The latter laid the ball into Ashaari's path who maintained his composure to beat the on rushing Megat Amir Faisal.

A minute later Ashaari could have double the lead for the visitors after another persistent play from Manaf let him through on the right. His cross was met by Ashaari with a crisp volley but his attempt hit the post with Megat Amir rooted to the floor. Manaf then had his chance when Zairo Anuar Zailani found him with a low pass. The Malaysian internation managed to shake off veteran defender K Nathakumar attention but could not keep his shot down.

Perak began to stir to life after the half hour mark with a freekick which nearly took the Terengganu defence by surprise. In the 33rd minute Saufi Saad's shot took a deflection from skipper Marzuki Yusof's boot and looped over but an alert Sharbini Allawee pushed the ball over the bar for a fruitless corner. A couple of minute later Saufi managed to break through on the left but once again Sharbini was on hand to deny his cross from reaching any Perak player. Then just before the interval another Terengganu new signing K Rajan managed to find space on the right and delivered a low drive which Megat Amir found to be too hot to handle. Unfortunately Manaf could not divert the loose ball into the net.

Terengganu continued from where they left in the second half. A beautiful one two in the 49th minute between Ashaari and Manaf opened up Perak's defence once again but this time Ashaari's volley hit a defender and went out for a corner. The first one was cleared behind giving Zairo another chance. This time his wonderfully struck corner found Firdaus who rose acrobatically to divert the ball into the top right of the Perak's goal despite the attention of a player standing on the goal-line. Terengganu were two goals to the good by the 50th minute.

Three minutes later Ashaari came close again but his curler from outside the box went just wide, leaving the goalkeeper a relieved man. In the 55th minute Firdaus hardwork opened the Perak defence once again, this time his cross from the right found an unmarked Ashaari whose header was stopped by a defender. He pounced on the rebound but could not get it on target and Perak escaped again.

However, the handful Perak fans who turned up to see their team play their first home match of the season were given a ray of hope when Saufi Saad reduced the deficit in the 58th minute after a quick one two which carved open the Terengganu defence. His low shot gave Sharbini no chance at all.

Terengganu tried to respond immediately with Firdaus letting fly from 35m. The goalkeeper tried to push it away but the ball fell to Ashaari who took one touch too many and was crowded out and the ball was cleared for a corner. Then Zairo tried another one from long range, this time from a 40m freekick and the goalkeeper struggled to keep it in and had to concede a corner. Firdaus tried another acrobatic shot but this time around it went off target.

Fifteen minutes from time, a reverse from Saturday's match against Kelantan; Firdaus went off with Joseph Kallang Tie coming on for him. The former Sabah and Sarawak player took just two minutes to make an impact. Capitalising from another Perak error at the back he weighted a wonderful pass to Ashaari who controlled the ball expertly before slotting it past Megat Amir Faisal to restore Terengganu two goal cushion.

The goal took the fight out from the home players. Manaf was presented with another chance to open his goal account this season after Zairo put him through with just the goalkeeper to beat. Unfortunately his attempt in the 82nd minute went just wide.

Terengganu were just happy to see out the match and travel home with all three points on board.

Glory Glory T'ganu..