PENANG’S defensive errors led to their downfall despite putting up a respectable show against an on-song League leader Johor DT II in the President Cup at Universiti Sains Malaysia stadium.
The home team made life difficult for the Johor outfit, who saw their slender lead completely wiped away twice. But Johor were able to exploit Penang’s sloppy defence job to troop out 3-2 winners.
Kamal Khalid was an unhappy coach when the final whistle went off.
“We certainly do not deserve this (defeat) as we did well enough to at least come away with a precious home point,” said Kamal after the recent match.
He instantly pointed at his defenders whom he felt should bear the brunt of the blame.
“My strike force and midfield put up a remarkable show to jolt Johor’s bid to dominate proceedings but I can’t say the same for my defenders.
“It was as if all of them had gone to sleep. I would like to get to the bottom of the problem before we go into our next home clash on Monday,” he added.
However, take nothing away from league leaders Johor as they went all out to return home with all three points to keep rivals like Pahang and Perak at bay in their Group B campaign.
Johor swung into the thick of the action right from the first whistle, eager to find an early lead.
However, with a determined Penang out to exploit their home ground advantage and grab the much-needed points, it was not a surprise that Johor failed to make headway until the 27th minute.
It was Johor’s skipper Shafiq Shaharuddin, who made the breakthrough, no thanks to Penang’s fumble in defence.
Playing his striker’s role to perfection, he capitalised on Penang’s failure to put the ball out of danger, beating goalkeeper Muhammad Hazrul with a well-placed shot.
The home side did not take it lying down. They quickly regrouped and got right back on the job.
It paid off just 11 minutes later when Penang’s Mohammad Ikhmal was brought down inside the penalty box.
Skipper Tunku Noor Hidayat took the spot kick and made no mistake in putting Penang on level terms after 38 minutes.
With both teams trooping back for the breather on equal terms, it was again Penang’s poor defence that enabled Johor to regain their lead in the 47th minute.
Their failure to check the advancing Shafiq saw the Johor striker weaving his way through before unleashing an unstoppable shot into goal. If Johor thought that they had the match all sewn up, they were gravely mistaken as Penang refused to surrender.
In the 74th minute, Penang grabbed the equaliser to erase Johor’s slender 2-1 lead.
Amirul Syazani broke loose on the left to chip a shot over an advancing Johor keeper Sirajuddin Isa.
The home fans exploded into cheers as the ball bounced right into the Johor goal, making it 2-2.
However, Penang again allowed Johor to have the final say when their atrocious defence allowed Shahwan Shaharuddin to put the southerners ahead in the 81st minute.
Like Shafiq, Shahwan was also handed the liberty to weave his way into the box and with only Muhammad Hazrul left to beat, he gleefully fired home a shot, which proved to be the all-important goal.