After the previous week’s 9-a-side effort I was keen to see a proper game and what better than a third tier clash pitching the National University of Malaysia against the Melaka Water Corporation?
That morning we’d moved out of the hotel that we’d temporarily been staying in and into a house. A house that came complete with a permanently startled looking lizard.
The move didn’t take much doing as these days we’ve pared our travelling stuff down to a suitcase full each and so after lunch we drove north for an hour to the Stadium Mini UKM at Bandar Bari Bangu. It was free to get in and we took seats in the single stand that held around five hundred. Or at least it potentially held five hundred. The visit of the men from the Water Board hadn’t really brought the crowds out and the stand was almost empty.
Elsewhere in the ground we had a dozen or so travelling fans in a corner making plenty of noise with a couple of drums and another twenty spectators who had parked their cars on a hill on the opposite side of the pitch and were watching the game from there.
The teams came onto the pitch to the sound of the Champions League walk-out music. Very professional, although it did seem a little over the top. There was no time for the teams to settle as within the first twenty seconds the Uni goalie had brought a Water Board striker down in the box.
The penalty was successfully dispatched to put the visitors a goal up.
The lead didn’t last though and within ten minutes of going behind the students were level after someone poked the ball home during a goalmouth scramble.
I thought the standard was pretty decent, although I’ve no idea if the players really were all students or water board employees. Perhaps there were a few ringers on show. Regardless, the quality of play was a lot better than the Northern League games that I’d watched a couple of weeks earlier.
At half-time I bought a burger and a hot dog for a combined total of less than a quid. They were both quite good. They didn’t seem to sell many though and it seemed as if most of the crowd were content to wait and then eat the remaining stock cold when it was given away towards the end of the game.
In the second half the visitors took control and went ahead with a header from a corner before doubling their lead on the hour when a quick break left the home defence all over the shop and the ball was knocked into an empty net.
The Water Board keeper made three good saves from chances where UKM should really have scored before letting a twenty-five yarder go through his hands and legs to reduce the deficit. That’s the way it finished.