Pahang v Penang, Saturday 24th September 2016, 9pm

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Jen and I drove the four hours or so to Kuantan for this game in our recently acquired nine-year old Proton Gen 2 car. It seemed increasingly less of a bargain with each time that we had to stop and prevent it over-heating by adding a litre or more of water.

Our hotel overlooked the Darulmakmur stadium and if we’d wanted to we could have watched the game from our room.  However, with the ground just a ten minute walk away, I thought we’d have a better view from inside.

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At the ticket office we had a choice of tickets at 12, 15 and 25 ringgits. I assumed that the cheapest were concessions, the middle band terracing and the top priced tickets were for the grandstands.

I was wrong. The middle option that I’d chosen on the basis of it being terracing turned out to be upper tier of the grandstand. It was a mistake that worked out well though in that the seats towards the front of the upper tier probably provided the best view in the ground.

This was another game that would go a long way in determining the relegation slots from the Super League. If Penang lost they were down, if Pahang won they would stay up. Or maybe it was the other way around. I dunno, it would have been easier if they hadn’t had such similar names. A draw suited neither really. Surprisingly, for a meaningful game the crowd seemed quite small.

There were a hundred and twenty or so visiting fans on the far side, with a banner encouraging ‘Lobo’ to stay. I’d no idea at the time who Lobo was. Or if the banner was even football related. It could just have easily been something to do with the training of dogs.

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Penang were in white with two light blue stripes whilst Pahang were in yellow.

The visitors played in a similar way to the previous week, generally starting from the back via the big fella at centre-half. I looked him up later and it turned out that he was the Lobo that the fans were keen to see stay. He didn’t have much in the way of ball-control and often needed the extra space and time that hanging ten yards behind the play gave him. He could boot it a long way though and you knew that if he were a Sunday league player he’d be taking the goal kicks and launching them almost to the opponents penalty area.

When the option was there for a short pass, Lobo would play it to the Korean in defensive midfield who was putting in what’s often described a workman-like shift. The usual plan for the Korean was then to find the Argentinian bloke ahead of him who would try to play in the Nigerian striker.

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Despite its simplicity, or perhaps because of it, Pahang had little trouble foiling the plan and they went into half-time a goal up after Penang failed to clear a corner and the ball was whacked home from four yards out.

There was a choice of refreshments at the interval. I declined the luminous green drink and instead plumped for the King Cola at 2 ringgits a cup. It was a lot sweeter than my usual choice of diet coke and were I an expert on these matters I’d probably say that the complex light floral notes were finely balanced with lingering hints of Jeyes fluid.

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We moved to the end of our stand for the second half as it was less busy and gave us a view of the rest of the stand from the curve. As I could see down to the lower tier, I’d say that there were probably 1,500 home fans in the 32,500 capacity ground.

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Penang varied their approach a little in the second half by moving the Korean further forward at the expense of the Argentinian fella. It didn’t make much difference though and their job was made harder when one of the visiting players was sent off for lashing out in what seemed an obvious case of frustration at the scoreline.

Pahang hung on to their lead and took the three points. It wasn’t a result that finally resolved anything though and with one game of the season remaining there were still five teams in danger of the drop.

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