Under pressure Johor FC coach Azuan Zain breathed a sigh of relief after watching his team finally show signs of life with a 2-1 friendly win over Kuala Lumpur in Bangi on Tuesday.
A series of uninspiring performances in Johor FC's pre-Malaysia Cup preparation, including defeats to Selangor (3-1) and Johor (4-0), left Azuan desperate for his side to find some form ahead of their opening Malaysia Cup Group C match against Felda United in Pasir Gudang on Sept 6.
Johor FC's main problem has been scoring goals with striker Shahrizal Saad managing only five in the Super League to emerge as the club's top scorer.
Rashid Aya, with four goals, was their next highest scorer and he was on target against KL, scoring the winner three minutes from time.
Azuan was pleased to see his side recover from going a goal down in the first half to a Badrul Hisyam Azmi strike before Irfan Abdul Ghani levelled proceedings with a fine free-kick.
"In the first half, we did not play very well and gave KL too much possession. In the second half, we settled down after I changed the system to 4-1-4-1 and began to pose more of an attacking threat.
"These are only friendly matches so we cannot read too much into the result. I wanted to see how the players coped with the new system and I feel they are adapting well," said Azuan after the match at the Maybank Training Centre.
Last year's run to the Malaysia Cup semi-finals, where they were ousted 2-1 on aggregate by Negri Sembilan despite winning the away leg, raised expectations for Johor FC to match or better that achievement.
The longest surviving club in Malaysian professional football since earning promotion to then Premier 2 in 1998, Johor FC have Super League champions Kelantan, Felda and Sarawak for company in a tough Malaysia Cup group.