Leonard at his best as Instant fend off Golden
INSTANT-Dict weathered the storm before earning a hard-fought 2-1 win over Golden in last night's exciting First Division clash at Mongkok Stadium.
Instant found themselves pinned back on the defensive for the last 15 minutes but held on grimly for the points and a share of third place with Golden, on eight points from five games.
Right winger Lo Kai-wah started the Golden fightback with a 77th-minute goal after Instant strikers Peter Costello and Paul Foster had put their team 2-0 ahead with goals in the 29th and 71st minutes respectively.
Scottish import Lee Bullen was denied a chance to claim a share of the points for Golden when his powerful shot struck the right-hand post in the 84th minute.
Instant 'keeper Mick Leonard then pulled off the last of a string of fine saves when he smothered Leung Shing-kit's close-range shot in the final minute.
Afterwards, Instant coach Koo Luam Khen breathed a sigh of relief and said: 'We were under a lot of pressure in the second half and particularly in those last few minutes. We had to make a few adjustments because we had players either injured or suspended and, because of this, we were not very organised.
'In matches like these, you need somebody outstanding and I think it was Mick Leonard tonight. When you play against Golden it's always going to be a tense game but, fortunately, we got the points.' Englishman Costello, who has settled in well with Instant after being signed from Mansion last month, scored his seventh of the campaign with a speculative 20-yard drive which Golden reserve 'keeper Mak Kwok-fai could only get his fingertips to.
Golden's response was fast and furious in the second half as they pounded the Instant defence, with left-winger Lee Fuk-wing and midfielder Chiu Chung-man both going close.
'The second phase of the league is still wide open,' said Instant striker Costello.
'The wind was against us in the second half and it pushed Golden forward a bit like it did for us in the first half.
'They [Golden] threw caution to the wind when they were down 2-0 but Mick Leonard made a few great saves for us,' he said.
Instant were without the suspended Tim O'Shea and former England international Neil Webb, who was nursing a strained calf and had to sit out what would have been his last game for the club.