Felda Utd 0
LionsXII 2 (Shaiful Esah 32’, Shahdan Sulaiman 77’)
LionsXII bounced back from the 3-0 defeat to defending champions Kelantan by securing a vital away victory against Felda United.
A Shaiful Esah freekick and a wonderful goal by Shahdan Sulaiman were enough to wrap up the three points comfortably.
In a near empty stadium, Felda United failed to threaten the Singapore side much with the away side controlling possession and building up slowly right from the start.
Khairul Amri, making his first start finally after a long layoff from injury, looked lively as he chased loose ball and ran non-stop.
However, it was Felda who had the first real chance of the game in the eighteen minute. Frenchman Mickael Antoine managed to turn Baihaikki Khaizan in the box before firing in a shot but LionsXII first choice keeper Hyrulnizam Juma’at managed to deal with comfortably
Some fourteen minutes later however, the LionsXII took the lead through set-pieces specialist Shaiful Esah.
From a freekick out on the right, Shaiful Esah floated one in towards the unmarked Baihaikki, who missed the ball by inches. However, that caught Felda goalkeeper Hamsani Ahmad off guard, and the ball curled into the far post for the opener.
That seemed to spark the life of Felda, who started to gain a foothold on the match.
Some desperate defending from LionsXII coupled with a number of saves from ‘Ah Lau’ meant that Felda did not manage to get the equalizer they craved for.
The visitors made sure of three points in the seventy seventh minute, when Shahdan Sulaiman scored from a great team move.
Captain Shahril Ishak started a counter attack and launched a searching pass towards Yasir Hanapi. The substitute right winger managed to reach the ball, before cutting the ball back brilliantly onto the path of the onrushing Shahdan. The attacking midfielder then produced one of the best finishes the season has seen, curling the ball into the top corner beyond the outstretch arms of Hamsani.
That put paid to Felda hopes of salvaging anything from the match and despite a late onslaught, they never looked as though they would find the back of the LionsXII net.
After playing Shahril Ishak out wide in recent games, LionsXII head coach V.Sundramoorthy decided to bring Shahril back to his favourite position; just behind the striker. That move paid off, as Shahril Ishak and Shahdan Sulaiman, who played a deeper role in central midfield, combined together to control possession.
The move also helped to minimize the loss of key midfielder Hariss Harun who did not make the trip up to Malacca.
As a result, Felda had to defend deeper than originally planned, and found it hard to push numbers forward when they had the opportunity to attack the LionsXII.
Felda United: Hamsani Ahmad(GK, C), Mohd Farid Ramli, Farderin Kadir, Yong Kuong Yong (Firdaus Fauzi 83’), Mohd Raimi Nor (Nizad Ayub 67’), Eddy Viator, Abdul Ghani Rahman, S.Sivanesan (Mohd Lot Mohd Hassan 54’), Nizam Abu Bakar, M.Sivakumar, Mickael Antonie. Unused subs: Irfan Abdul Ghani, Khairan Ezuan Razali, Mohd Lot Hassan, Juzaili Samion, Mohd Suffian Rahman.
LionsXII: Hyrulnizam Juma’at(GK), Juma’at Jantan, Baihaikki Khaizan, Sevki Sha’ban, Irwan Shah (Safirul Sulaiman 86’), Shaiful Esah, Isa Halim, Khairul Amri (Yasir Hanapi 65’), Shahdan Sulaiman, Shahril Ishak(C) (Firdaus Kasman 89’), Khairul Nizam. Unused subs: Izwan Mahbud, Madhu Mohana, Agu Casmir, Sufian Anuar.