GEORGE TOWN: Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) have emerged as clear favourites for the league title at the halfway mark of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division after notching a convincing 5-2 win over Nur Insafi at the USM Hockey Stadium last night.
With their fifth straight victory in the bag, KLHC have maintained their 100% record in the league and more importantly opened up a five-point lead over closest challengers Maybank at the top of the standings.
Muhammad Razie Rahim opened the scoring for KLHC through a penalty corner after just eight minutes. Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin made it 2-0 three minutes later.
Against the run of play, Mubeen Ur Rehman pulled a goal back for Penang-based Nur Insafi a minute before the breather.
But KLHC needed just three minutes into the second period to restore their two-goal cushion with Tengku Ahmad finishing off a flowing move with a simple tap-in. He then completed his hat-trick in the 55th minute to make it 4-1 and Azli Misron capitalised on a fast breakaway to slot in the fifth goal two minutes later.
Nur Insafi scored a late second consolation goal through Alemada Bopiah.
Maybank, who lost ground after going down 1-3 to KLHC on Saturday, dropped another two points yesterday when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Sapura.
Maybank made a perfect start by surging ahead after just 22 seconds on the clock with Hafifihafiz Hanafi finishing off Hairul Nizam Rani’s pass.
Stung by the early goal, Sapura fought back gallantly. And they were not to be denied their goal in the final act of the first half. S. Kuhan made it count with a direct attempt in his team’s sixth penalty corner.
Sapura continued to pile on the pressure in the second period, but poor finishing coupled with some stout defending by Maybank ensured the team shared the spoils.
The draw enabled Maybank, on 10 points, to hold on to second spot, one point ahead of Tenaga and three in front of Sapura.
“Despite collecting just one point from our two matches in Penang, I would still call it a satisfying outing as we managed to hold on to our second position in the table at the halfway mark of the season,” said Maybank coach S. Velappan.
“Sapura were no pushovers today and I am happy that my players were able to raise their game.
“But Saturday’s exertions against KLHC made it tough for us to be in the best physical condition against Sapura. I am not overly worried about KLHC pulling away at the top as holding on to the second spot is Maybank’s main priority now,” added Velappan.
Third-placed Tenaga ensured they did not drop off the pace by securing their second win in as many days with a 4-0 win over basement side Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL).
Tajol Rosli Mohamad (13th minute), Muhamad Amin Rahim (55th) and veteran forward M. Kaliswaran (60th and 64th) were on target for Tenaga.
TENAGA 4 UniKL 0
MAYBANK 1 SAPURA 1
NUR INSAFI 2 KLHC 5
P W D L F A Pts
KLHC 5 5 0 0 18 3 15
MAYBANK 5 3 1 1 11 6 10
TENAGA 5 3 0 2 11 6 9
SAPURA 5 2 1 2 12 8 7
NUR INSAFI 5 0 1 4 7 18 1
UniKL 5 0 1 4 2 16 1