BATU KAWAN: New pro Geoff Dwyer scored on his debut for Penang and the FA Cup champions had their name engraved on the Charity Shield for the first time with a 1-0 win over a new-look Selangor side at the State Stadium here last night.
Buoyed on by a partisan home crowd, the Panthers were deserving winners in the curtain raiser to the Malaysian football season as they showed more hunger against a rather insipid Selangor side.
Strikers Mohd Nizarudin Yusof, Shahrin Majid and second half substitute Mohd Fareed Shah clearly lacked cohesion and struggled to find a way through the Penang defence marshalled superbly by Chee Wan Hoe.
Just 12 minutes into the game, Australian Dwyer, who only turned professional a week ago when he joined Penang, endeared himself to the state's fans, with a memorable debut.
It was just Penang's first real attack of the night. Ng Kok Heng's in-swinging corner was met by Dwyer at the near post but his shot was cleared off the line by defender S. Sivaram. The lurking Dwyer slid in to stab the rebound past the goalline. The fans jumped with joy.
Penang coach Irfan Bakti sprang a surprise by giving M. Prakash his M-league debut at rightback instead of former national player Aziz Ismail. Selangor's Ken Worden, meanwhile, chose to keep his star striker Rusdi Suparman on the bench.
A steady drizzle right from the kickoff looked to have cooled down the passion of the players as both sides started the match cautiously.
After the early strike, Penang pushed on but suffered a blow at the half hour when chief striker Gustavo Romero, who had tormented the opponents' defence with his pacy runs, had to be stretchered off after a collision with Selangor goalkeeper Azmin Azram Abdul Aziz.
Chances were few and far in between for the remainder of the first half with Selangor rarely testing Penang custodian Kamarulzaman Hassan.
Even a halftime pep talk by Worden failed to lift the Malaysia Cup champions as it was the Panthers who seemed hungrier to put the match beyond doubt.
Penang had a penalty appeal turned down in the 59th minute when Hasmawi Hassan tumbled to the ground after a challenge while Selangor's best chance of the night came in the 70th minute with Nizam Jamil forcing Kamarulzaman to pull off a one-handed reflex save.
Sensing that attack was the best form of defence, the Panthers kept up the pressure in the final minutes of the game. Even the inclusion of Rusdi with seven minutes to go failed to lift the Giants. And the Panthers hung on for a perfect start to the season.
Penang: Kamarulzaman Hassan, Chee Wan Hoe, Geoffrey Dwyer, Zailani Jaffar, Chow Chee Weng, M.Prakash Abdul Aziz Ismail), Ng Kok Heng (Azni Ariffin), R.Suresh Kumar, Wan Rohaimi Ismail, Hasmawi Hassan, Gustavo Romero (S.Gopinath).
Selangor: Azmin Azram Aziz, Ivica Kulesevic, Y.Yogeswaran, Mohd Jaafar Salleh (Mohd Fareed Shah), S.Jayaprakash (Rusdi Suparman), S.Sivaram, Mohd Shukor Adan, D.Surendran, Nizam Jamil, Mohd Nizaruddin Yusof, Shahrin Majid