Madang FC only lucky to scraped through.
Touted as the team to challenge National Soccer League (NSL) favorites Lae City Dwellers for the top gong this season, they were made to look ordinary by the highly talented Besta PNG United side at Bisini yesterday.
The inclusion of former international Niel Hans back from injury after being laid off since January, proved to be a godsend for coach Moyap Francis.
And it only took Hans seven minutes to deflect a volley into the Besta goal-mouth to take an early 1-0 lead.
With the ascendency on their side, Madang had the flow of play to pepper the defence-line with several more chanceless opportunities.
But the youth side held firm to half-time.
The break gave Besta the much needed second-wind, as they practically left the flat-footed Madang side struggling to regain composure.
And the inclusion of regular starting striker Jonathan Allen to replace Rodney Ones at the 55th minute helped to beef up their offense.
Besta’s quick passing game frustrated the Madang side, who had to come out of their comfort zone to deny the young Lions from spoiling the party.
Besta’s nippy Ricky Wadunah who is slowly proving to be a class act alongside Oberth Simon dictated the mid-field with their quick one two’s and through balls.
Even the efforts of Madang and PNG defender Felix Komolong were to no avail as Allen and Earnest Gwaitap had numerous opportunities gone begging in a 15 minute pressure cooker.
Later Emmanuel Simongi had a great chance laid on by Wadunah, but was unlucky, the goal-mouth was hard to find.
With Madang ringing in the changes to bring on Solomon Mapai and Emmanuel Airem for fresh legs up front, proved to make only a slight headway.
A Komolong long ranger to Airem attacking the goal-mouth from the right-flank had the perfect half-volley to finish off, but his range was way off target as well.
Madang held on to win with coach Francis disappointed in his sides second-half.
“Our positional play was gone, but credit must go to Besta in the way they fought back courageously,” he added.