THE curse of the 3-2, last minute concession affected Ireland yet again as the Irish senior men were undone by Hanfi Hafifihafiz’ late corner deflection to take the spoils at Belfield in the third of four internationals at Belfield this week.
Such a scoreline twice undid the Ireland U-17 girls and this one was similarly frustrating as the boys in green bounced back from a 2-0 deficit only to give up a late corner.
Paul Revington made wholescale changes with John Jackson, Eugene Magee, Mitch Darling, Timmy Cockram and Conor Harte making their first appearances since the summer break with Andy McConnell, David Ames and Ronan Gormley coming back into the side.
And the coach admitted afterwards the changes led to a rusty performance, taking over 45 minutes to truly click into gear.
Speaking after the game, Revington said: “We are disappointed to lose in the final minute having worked hard to get back into the game. Also we are disappointed that two of the goals came from one v one situations that we lost and that needs to be rectified.
“I thought this group took 35 minutes to get back into international standard of the game tempo and showed in the second half that they equally matched the pace and tempo of Malaysians. Tomorrow we want to play at a high level and tempo for the duration of the game.”
Malaysia bossed the first period and took just four minutes to get on top. Ahmad Tajudin – a thorn in both prior matches – glided down the right touchline before Hanfi Hafifihafiz’ deflection from close range looped goalward and Baljit Singh made sure with a high tap in at the back post.
Cockram fizzed a reverse moments later which the returning Jamluddin Roslan getting a toe ahead to the ball, inches before the sliding Magee. But it was as good as Ireland created before the interval as they relied on three superb Joe Brennan interventions to break up attacks while Ronan Gormley cleared Tajudin’s slipped cross from the goalmouth.
Gleghorne blocked down two corner strikes in quick succession while Iain Walker continued his decent form between the posts.
Ireland played a deeper formation, perhaps attempting to deny the space afforded to Malaysia on Thursday night. The Asian side, as a result, held plenty of possession and stole in on a number of sketchy mistakes.
It became 2-0 in the 40th minute in stunning style – a steal on their own 25 metre line precipitated a five-second transfer with Saari Faizal using a semi-upright reverse to clip in off the inside of the post with only two passes needed to forge the opportunity.
Ireland’s attacks to this point were frustrated on the fringes of the circle, numerous crash balls blocked out by the first defender.
But they got a lifeline 18 minutes from time with a brilliant created move – Jason Lynch’s right-wing hit redirected into Timmy Cockram’s path by Andy McConnell.
It came up slightly awkwardly up from a defender’s stick but he kept his eye on the ball to volley on his reverse from about the flick spot past a scrambling Roslan. Walker denied a Faizal one-on-one chance and dived to tip Muhamad Amin’s drag-flick around the post.
And when Alan Sothern dragged home Ireland’s second corner with seven minutes to go to tie the game up, Ireland were on the verge of an unlikely result.
But Malaysia nicked a late corner and Amin’s drag to the right post neatly located the sliding Hafifihafiz for the winner. They play their fourth fixture of the week tomorrow at Belfield at 7pm.
Elsewhere, the men’s Irish Masters enjoyed an impressive opening day to their Home Nations Plus tournament in Hillsborough. The men’s over 50s drew 4-4 with Scotland before beating Wales 5-0 while the over 40s beat Wales 1-0.
Ireland: Iain Walker, Ronan Gormley (capt), John Jackson, Chris Cargo, Eugene Magee, Andy McConnell, Mitch Darling, Timmy Cockram, David Ames, Paul Gleghorne, Conor Harte
Subs: Alan Sothern, Joe Brennan, Phelie Maguire, Bruce McCandless, Jason Lynch
Malaysia: Jamluddin Roslan, Muhamad Amin, Muhammad Marhan, Madzli Ikmar, Saari Faizal, Mohamad Sukri, Misron Azlan, Muhammad Razie, Hanfi Hafifihafiz, Baljit Singh, Ahmad Tajudin
Subs: Tajol Rosli, Izwan Firdaus, Muhamad Azammi, Azreen Rizal
Umpires: Dan Clarke, Robert Johnston