Johor stay unbeaten with win over Rhinos
source: Daily Express
Sabah went down 2-1 to league leders Johor in their Premier League match at the Likas Stadium here, Monday.
Second half substitute, Norizam Salaman was the toast of Johor scoring twice in the 59th and 69th minute after Sabah had taken the lead through veteran striker, Zainizam Marjan in the 55th minute.
Playing in the slippery condition, no thanks to a downpour a few hours prior to kickoff, the first half was a drab affair with play mostly concentrated in the middle of the pitch.
Johor however dominated possession but were restricted to long range shots which either went wide or was comfortably saved by Sabah goalie Irwan Jamil.
Sabah were also restricted to taking long range shorts and throughtout the first half had only two chances, namely by Alto Jinus in the 20th minute, which was inches off target and Leopold Alfonso in injury time, which was saved by Johor keeper, Norazlan Razali.
The second half was also slow to pick up pace as players from both sides struggled to string decent passes due to the pitch’s condition.
Things started to liven up for the homesters in the 53rd minute when Julamri Mohammad’s blistering shot from inside the six yard box after receiving a cross from the right was parried away by Norazlan for a fruitless corner.
Two minutes later, Sabah took the lead when midfielder Billyton Vun floated in a free kick, which was flicked on by Wong Sai Kong right into the patch of Zainizam, who made no mistake to tap the ball past Norazlan.
The joy for the home fans was shortlived however, when four minutes later, Johor midfielder Mohd Rizal Roslan stole the ball from defender Mafry Balang before crossing into the penalty box for the unmarked Norizam to head home, in what was virtually his first touch of the ball, having replaced the ineffective Hardi Ahmad minutes earlier.
Norizam almost scored again in the 61st minute but his header from a corner kick hit the upright. However, he was no to be denied eight minutes later when he connected with Jaszrin Jamaluddin’s low cross from the right. Again slack defending by the Sabah players was to be blamed for the goal.
Spurred on by the goal, Johor stepped up their onslaught on the Sabah goal but poor finishing let them down.
Sabah, to their credit tried to claw their way back for at least a draw and nearly equalised in the 74th minute. Leopold’s powerful striker from outside the box was parried away by Norazlan only for the ball to land perfectly for Zainizam, who despite having the goal at his mercy, scuffed his shot and the ball hit the post before going out of play.
It proved to be Sabah’s last chance as Johor held on for a well-deserved win and preserived their unbeaten record as well as remain on top of the league.