...by The Turtles.
Terengganu made a strong second half comeback to win 3-1 after falling behind against bottom team, Perlis in their 2011 Super League match at the Sultan Ismail Nasirudin Shah last night. It seemed the incident of falling behind is becoming a trade-mark for The Turtles who already made eight positive comebacks from their 17 league matches so far.
They also have made late rallies in their away defeats to Selangor and Perak (FA Cup) while against Kedah they were unlucky not coming away with a more positive result.
Against Perlis, Head Coach, Irfan Bakti chose to field Mazlizam Mohamad and Ronny Harun while resting influential skipper, Marzuki Yusof. It was quite a strange decision by the experienced coach as he was already without regular, Hasmizan Kamarodin who was given an extended leave to be with his wife for the delivery of their child.
Thus it was not really a surprise when the new partnership failed to gel effectively which led to The Northern Lions scoring their goal by Nik Shahrul Hanizam when he capitalised on a defensive mix-up. Instead of introducing Marzuki, it was Abdul Manaf Mamat who was sent on in place of the beleaguered Ahmad Nordin Alias.
It was perhaps a tactical reshuffle as from the line-up, it was more like a 4-5-1 formation with Abdul Hadi Yahya playing as a lone striker. Introducing Abdul Manaf changed the formation to the more familiar 4-4-2 formation again.
However, it was the lack of sharpness of the Terengganu players that saw them playing below par as quite a number of passes went astray despite having a lion share of possession. This prompted uncivilized fans to hurl abuse at the players when they should be giving them encouragement to try harder.
These fans might as well stay away as their presence merely provoke stress to the players who were trying their best under conditions which were not helping them to consistently give their best in every match. The Perlis match was their tenth match in thirty days.
Irfan Bakti's attempt to rotate his squad seemed to backfire which gave credence to his statement that his squad does not have adequate strength in depth to give his players enough rest between matches.
Fortunately his striker Abdul Manaf who was in the midst of a dry spell in front of goal found his scoring touch back with a brace in the second half, sandwiching a strike by another player who have not found the back of the net in the last six matches, Ashaari Shamsudin.
Abdul Manaf first strike came nine minutes into the second half when he latched onto a through pass and finished the move with a low shot that left Perlis goalkeeper, Amini Ahmad Tabarani helpless. Then in the 68th minute Ashaari darted on a solo run past several Perlis defenders which ended with him beating Amini with another low shot.
Then in the 76th minute Abdul Hadi Yahya broke in from the right and sent in a low ball. Abdul Manaf anticipation was spot on as he connected with it to beat Amini at his near post. It could have been four and a ht-trick for Abdul Manaf but his wonderful header from a cross by Reeshafiq Alwi was ruled off-side by the referee assistant.
The win maintained Terengganu pressure on the two teams at the top of the 2011 Super League table. Kelantan won 1-0 at Johor FC while Selangor overcame Kuala Lumpur in Cheras with a 3-1 scoreline.