LEADERS Police needed a penalty to salvage a 3-3 draw against Felda United in a thrilling Premier League match at the Selayang Stadium on a night Negri Sembilan came unstuck against Penang at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi, Seremban, losing 3-1.
In other matches, Kedah edged Johor Darul Takzim 2 with Billy Mehmet scoring the winner in their a 1-0 win while Sabah were held 0-0 by KL SPA in Kota Kinabalu. At Stadium Hang Jebat in Malacca, DRB Hicom drew 1-1 with Perlis. UiTM FC scored their second win in seven matches, winning 1-0 against Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP FC) at the City Stadium.
Police looked like running away with an easy win over The Settlers – going 2-0 up by the 30th minute as Felda struggled to cope with the Cops.
Maldive national skipper Ashfaq Ali showed why he is one of the better foreign players in the M-League when he opened scoring with a clinical finish in the 11th minute off a long ball from Brazilian defender Rafael Souza.
It was 2-0 for Police on 30 minutes when Brazilian Chad Charles Souza found the net after Farizal had stopped Rafael’s header with his leg from a Munir Amran corner. However the ball went straight to Chad who sent it back into the net past a sea of legs.
But Shahrulnizam Mustafa swung Felda back into the picture when he rose high to plant home a powerful header past Police keeper Azizon Kadir from a Indra Putra Mahyuddin corner in first half injury time.
That was all what Felda needed as they came out for the second half breathing fire and it was all square after 56 minutes with Indra getting his name into the scoresheet.
The former international found the Police net when he fierce drive from outside the box took a deflection off Rafael before going in to make it 2-2.
The adrenalin was flowing for the settlers as they grew in confidence, especially after Irfan Bati brought in Uzbek defender Yaroslav Krushelnitskiv for Hasni Zaidi in the 50th minute. The hardworking Uzbek was all over the field – helping out in defence and landing a hand upfront when it mattered.
Felda were on fire and took a 3-2 lead on 70 minutes. A corner by Indra found under fire Liberian striker Edward Wilson who rose high to send a dipping header into the Police net.
But Police earned a penalty in the 78th minute when Hasriq Baharom fell Ashfaq inside the box during a goalmouth melee after Alafi Mahmud’s attempt came off the right upright. Ashfaq picked himself up to slot his second for the night and take his personal tally to seven goals.
Despite the draw Police, who have game in hand over Penang, retained their place at the top on goal difference with 19 points each.
“I am more than pleased with the draw and the performance of my players. We could have won the match if we had been sharper with the opportunities that we created inside the box,” said Irfan.
His Police counterpart Dollah Salleh said: “Our midfield did not function at full throttle and this cost us dearly.”