It’s safe to say that the majority of Penang fans were skeptical about Penang winning against Sarawak tonight. The Panthers suffered three defeats in a row under coach Ashley Westwood prior to this one and things were further dampened by the sudden downpour and Penang fan’s protest of Zairil Khir Johari’s appointment as the president of FAP.
Despite all the setbacks, both Penang and Sarawak fans flocked to the stadium, eager to watch the two bottom-tier teams annihilate each other.
Unfortunately, it didn’t look like anyone from Penang or Sarawak wanted to get their names on the scoresheet. From an exciting start to a predictable rest of the first, we barely saw any shots on target apart from a couple of attempts by Penang. An early attempt by Penang was cleared by Sarawak’s alert defence on the 5th minute, and another chance for Penang on the 11th minute saw Kumaahran’s shot go wide.
Sarawak was quick on the ball and intercepted the balls adeptly, but the Crocs mostly capitalised on counter-attacks, which yielded no tangible results for them.
Things were not about to get better for Penang as Kumaahran went down in pain at the 21st minute. As the youngster was escorted off the pitch by paramedics, he was replaced by Cipeng, which raised a lot of questions from the crowd. Why was a defensive midfielder coming on for a winger?
Another chance for Penang arrived on the 46th minute via Faizal, but his shot went straight to the keeper.
The start of second half saw Penang picking up pace, but that was lost within a few minutes as they started losing possession very easily. Sarawak, on the other hand, looked like they now had a clear game plan, they knew what they were doing and worked into their positions. Penang, on the other hand, had a dead midfield, ineffective defence, and only two players doing the work at any given time.
Although we saw more shots on target via Syamer and Faizat this time around, the attempt was poor, messy, and unorganised. There were crosses but no one in the box to receive, or easily cleared. Every attempt at a stunner went futile.
The energy picked up when Nigel comes on for Jafry on the 66th minute, who tried to work with Faizat to make something happen, but to no avail.
At the 72nd minute, Sarawak’s game plan paid off and as Mark Hartmann found himself face to face with the goalkeeper, and there was nothing Sani could do to stop him. Hartmann found the back of the net and put the visitors ahead 1-0 at the Batu Kawan stadium.
Penang continued to push past Sarawak’s solid defence with Faiz Subri being brought on to the pitch, and although Sarawak keeper Shahril Sha’ari was kept busy with several late attempts, the Penang Panthers could not make anything happen as they went on to incur their fourth consecutive defeat of the season.