Johor Darul Ta’azim (JDT) continued their FA Cup campaign with an impressive 4-1 victory over Premier League side Negeri Sembilan at the Larkin Stadium in Johor Bahru tonight.
The Southern Tigers head coach Mario Gomez went to the match by fielding most of his reserve players, excluding the likes of S. Kunanlan, Gary Steven Robbat, Amri Yahya and Azniee Taib. The Deers boss Gary Michael Phillips started a strong line-up with the hopes of upsetting JDT and advancing to the fourth round of the Superbest Power FA Cup.
The AFC Cup and M-League champions started the game well as Azniee Taib scored on the 6th minute. The winger saw Negeri Sembilan goalkeeper Syed Adney off his line and decided to curl the ball to the far post. The 30,000 capacity stadium erupted with a roar of delight.
A few minutes later, Gary Steven Robbat was brought down in the Negeri Sembilan penalty box and the referee pointed to the spot. Skipper of the night Amri Yahyah doubled the home side’s lead by slotting it to the goalkeeper’s left-hand side on the 10th minute of the game.
Azamuddin Akil could have extended Johor DT’s lead on the 17th minute but his shot just went inches off target. Azniee Taib switched to the right flank before making a brilliant run to set up the ex-Pahang midfielder who fluffed his shot wide. Gary Phillips’ men have been struggling to cope with the pressure of the home side since the first minute of the game.
A brilliant through ball from Amri Yahyah made space for Azniee Taib to run at Khairul Anwar, and the winger found the team captain, who sprinted forward from the halfway line, to head it down for Safee Sali but his ambitious attempt on goal just went above the bar.
Ex-Sabah star Joel Chianese worried the home crowd for a while after he was clean through on Izham Tarmizi’s goal but his shot went a few inches off target ten minutes from time. Nurhafizzuan Jailani came close to scoring on the verge of half-time after a few defensive errors from the Southern Tigers, unfortunately, his shot was not good enough.
The second half kicked off and the tempo of the game slowed down a fair bit.
Safee Sali missed a header from close distance as it was too high for him after centre-back Amer Saidin whipped in a decent cross. The home fans showed signs of frustration as the former national team forward has been poor all night long.
Negeri Sembilan took their first shot on goal after Izhan Tarmizi saved Alex Smith’s free kick.
Harimau Malaysia captain Safiq Rahim was introduced on the 62nd minute for Gary Steven Robbat and instantly made an impact. He received the ball on his third touch of the game and found Jorge Pereyra Diaz, who headed home his fifth goal of the season.
On the 66th minute, ex-Melbourne Victory attacker Andrew Nabbout found the time and space on the edge of the box and produced a composed finish to reduce the deficit to 3-1. The away fans were delighted as their long travel to Larkin Stadium resulted in a goal.
Norhafizzuan Jailani failed to give Negeri Sembilan a glimmer of hope after his one-on-one effort was saved by Izham Tarmizi with his legs on the 80th minute.
Pereyra Diaz scored his second goal on the 90th minute after an assist by Azniee Taib.
Despite the scoreline, Gary Phillips should be proud of his team’s performance.
The attendance at the Larkin Stadium tonight was 21,430 spectators.