It was a pathetic display, coupled with an atrocious pitch condition, but KL Hockey Club prevailed to defeat ATM-Airod 3-1 at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh.
Having defeated Sapura and Yayasan Negeri Sembilan, 6-2 and 6-3 respectively, another big win was forecasted as ATM-Airod had lost all their matches thus far.
But with the pitch slippery and coupled with the fact that the KLHC players overdid running with the ball, with overconfidence probably playing a part, the defending league champions labored for the win.
However it will be unfair to take the credit away from the Army boys who never gave a quarter as they harassed the KLHC players and made them work for the goals.
KLHC went on the offensive from the first whistle and forced a penalty corner in the fifth minute but the attempt by Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim hit the cross bar.
It was only a matter of time before Airod cracked and it occurred in the 10th minute as Chua Boon Huat was given all the time in the world at the edge of the semi circle to pick his spot and sent in a superb reverse stick hit to put KLHC 1-0 ahead.
But after that the KLHC players went into a slumber with poor passes, missed traps, and lack of movement upfront. And though they were awarded another two penalty corners, both Baljit Singh and Razie failed to find the mark.
Chua almost doubled the advantage for KLHC in the 29th minute but his weak push was stopped on the line by Raja Rozifa Raja Daud.
Three minutes before halftime, KLHC were awarded their fourth penalty corner and this time it was Razie who was denied yet again by Mohd Khairul. In the very next minute, KLHC skipper Azlan Misron found himself infront of an unguarded goal but sent his shot wide.
At halftime KLHC led 1-0 but their performance was poor to say the least.
Razie finally beat Mohd Khairul in the 40th minute off a penalty corner but was instead denied by the upright, further adding to the misery on the bench as Airod started growing in confidence.
And Airod took full advantage of the lackadaisical approach of the KLHC players to draw level in the 46th minute as Ahmad Ridzuan Zainal Abidin scored.
But KLHC was not to be denied as they found the second goal via Chua in the 51st minute after some fine work by Azlan on the left.
Razie finally got the better of the Airod keeper in the 69th minute to score off a penalty corner, putting some sort of respect on the final scoreline