Defending champions KL Hockey Club coasted to a 7-2 win over Uitm while Sapura were given a fright before emerging 3-2 winners over Maybank in the TNBMHL at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Sapura had a comfortable 3-0 lead by the 21st minute but instead of building on the lead, their game fell to pieces and they were fortunate to come away with all three points.
“We started well but instead of working towards building onto the advantage my players tried to preserve the lead,” said Sapura coach I. Vikneswaran.
“And we were guilty of letting our guard down as well. It was not a case of being overconfident but rather we were complacent.
“In a way we are lucky to have won the match as Maybank created several chances in the closing stages but could not find the mark.”
Sapura shocked Maybank by scoring in the first minute itself as Azreen Rizal Nasir broke through on the left and unleashed a reverse stick hit that went in on the near post, giving Maybank keeper Mohd Hanafi Hassan no chance whatsoever.
And it was 2-0 in favour of Sapura in the 13th minute as S.Kuhan converted a penalty corner, their first of the match, and inside the first quarter Maybank had a mountain to climb.
Things got more murkier for the Tigers as Sapura scored their third goal in the 21st minute through Azreen yet again, who showed his killer instinct by squeezing in a shot from the left off an acute angle.
The Maybank fightback began when newly signed Mohd Zulhairi Hashim converted a penalty corner in the 26th minute to reduce the deficit to 3-1.
And in the 44th minute Zulhairi was on target yet again via a penalty corner and Sapura were reeling, making numerous mistakes as their game disintegrated.
Though Maybank were awarded penalty corners in the 58th and 60th minutes, Zulhairi could not find the back of the net.
And Maybank had a glorious chance to equalise in the 62nd minute but Suhaimi Ibrahim failed to connect from just two feet from the goal line.
“We had a poor start and being a goal down in the very first minute made our task all the more difficult,” said Maybank coach Wallace Tan.
“Considering the fact that it was our first match, I am happy with the fightback after being 3-0 down but it is a position we should never have been in.”
“Though we had several chances late in the match, our failure to convert them cost us the game. We have to learn from this defeat and start winning matches if we want to finish high in the standings.”
On the adjacent pitch defending champions KLHC showed why they are a team to beat as they showed much composure in their 7-2 win over Uitm.
"Though I am happy with the three points, I am not at all happy with the performance of the players,” said KLHC team manager George Koshy.
“We made too many mistakes in defence and it must be said that the defensive strategy adopted by our opponents did not help matters. Thus it took time to break down their defence.”
KLHC took a commanding 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Chua Boon Huat (5th minute), Harvinder Singh (26th minute) and Kevinder Singh (41st minute).
But two goals in the space of three minutes allowed Uitm to be within a goal of KLHC.
Tariq Nazir Ahmad scored in the 43rd minute before Muhammad Aslam Mohammad Hanafiah struck from a penalty corner in the 46th minute to make it 3-2.
But KLHC were undeterred and showed that they are in a class of their own as Ismail Abu (52nd minute) and Chua (56th minute) made it 5-2 in favour of the defending champions.
Mohd Fitri Saari scored in the 62nd minute to give KLHC a 6-2 lead before Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tg Jalil completed the rout scoring two minutes from time.