THE 2017 Telikom National Soccer League (NSL) season got underway at the Laiwaden Oval in Madang with mixed results on Saturday.
The appearance of special guests including NSL board chairman Benny Popoitai, NSL board member Xavier Victor, PNG men’s coach Flemming Serritslev, Madang Governor Jim Kas and Morobe Football Association president Peter Seske, added the silver lining to the season opener for the nationwide competition.
Title holders Lae City Dwellers were given a shake by Madang FC in the main game of the afternoon.
The rivalry was at its best as both sides tested each others defences.
But it was Madang from the offset that dominated the match through the efforts of Samuel Kini and skipper Max Sengum winning the mid-field battle against Dwellers Emmanuel Simon, with several strong attempts at goal.
Only the efforts of Dwellers goal-keeper Matheson Nasa kept them in the game.
Finally the ice broke as the home-side led at the 38th minute courtesy of an own goal by Peter Dabinyaba Jr, from a plucky cross from Hanson Topio.
The Dwellers from there looked rattled, and despite attempts by skipper Raymond Gunemba and Obert Bika, the Madang defence of Felix Komalong, Vincent Worio, Nigel Malagian and Langarap Samol held up well.
Leading 1-0 to half-time and for most of the second-half, the Dwellers were practically gone, and to make matters worse PNG striker Raymond Gunemba struggled with an obvious injury for the better part of the second-half.
That may have proven to be a god-send as at the 80th minute the Madang defence held back, and his magic left foot did the rest to beat goal-keeper Sevo Mandari to the right with a surprise goal.
The match remained 1-1 to full-time.