| Fadhil Yunus |
TABUAN maintained their foothold at the summit of the NFABD Under-16 Youth League after an entertaining 3-3 draw with title rivals DPMM FC in a top-of-the-table clash at the Track and Field of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex yesterday.
It was a classic tale of two halves as DPMM FC enjoyed a blistering start with two goals in the opening half before Tabuan clawed their way back into contention after the break to put the game firmly on the balance.
With the tie locked at 1-1, DPMM FC retook the lead from open play but Tabuan had other ideas to snatch an equaliser to secure a draw and ensured both teams’ unbeaten record remain intact.
The Jerudong-based outfit put the previously untroubled Tabuan to the test with their attacking endeavours as the midfield battles illustrated the competitive nature of the keenly-contested affair.
Awangku Md Syafiq Hilmi bin Pengiran Md Shahrom reacted quickly from a set-piece to send home a neat strike and presented his side an early lead in the third minute.
DPMM FC goalkeeper Muhd Mirza Luqman bin Roslie was called into action twice and repelled the Tabuan attacks in quick succession.
Muhd Azirul Aiman bin Suderman’s effort was thwarted by the goalkeeper from close range and his header punched away to safety in a matter of moments as DPMM FC escaped trouble. The junior Gegar-Gegar men doubled their lead through Eli Oliver Pahl who collected the loose ball and drove home a neat finish at the half an hour mark.
The breather proved to be a welcoming break for Tabuan who came out in the second half all fired up as they looked to get back into the game.
Tabuan were awarded a free-kick and in-form Awangku Md Idzzaham Aleshahmezan bin Pengiran Metali produced a moment of magic with a stunning strike.
DPMM FC missed the chance to go 3-1 up after Fynn Benjamin Pahl blazed his effort wide, having been set up by Max Charlie Hewitt.
That miss proved costly as the national youth development side levelled the scores through Md Azirul Aiman who was the quickest in the DPMM FC’s defence.
Md Muaz Qamaruddin bin Nordin looked to have gotten the win for DPMM FC after squeezing in his shot into the near post but Tabuan’s Ahmad Danish Hakim bin Azami fired home a decent drive a minute later to salvage a point and retain their top spot.
Fynn Benjamin nearly stole all three points for DPMM FC in the dying seconds of the game after chipping the goalkeeper, but thankfully for Tabuan, his shot trickled wide.