Kelantan 2 - 1 PKNS FC: Red Warriors snatch a late goal to secure maximum points in their MSL opener
The MSL Champions Kelantan scored an injury time goal to secure three points in front of their home fans in their league opener
By Muhammad Izzat Akmal Ismail
Despite the rain which had been falling since the early evening, the Sultan Muhammad keIV Stadium in Kota Bharu was almost filled to capacity by fans eager to see their team try and stretch their unbeaten home record into 2013.
Kelantan coach Bojan Hodak made several changes to his team after Saturday's charity shield defeat to ATM, excluding both Zairo Anuar and Rizal Fahmi from the line up. Khairul Fahmi returned to the squad as Kelantan looked to start their league season with a win.
The beginning of the match went to script with Kelantan eager to play possesion football and PKNS looking to play deep inside their own half. However, PKNS were at times able to trouble the Red Warriors when applying pressure high up the pitch, forcing Kelantan’s defensive line into mistakes. National youth player, Nik Shahrul Azim, was one of the home team's standout performers as he calmy dealt with several attacks form PKNS, often led by the former Sime Darby forward Patrick ‘Ronaldinho’ Wleh.
It was the visitors who struck first, as Helmi Remeli silenced the home fans with a well placed free kick on 15 minutes, giving Kelantan number one Khairul Fahmi Che Mat little chance. However it didn't take long for Kelantan to level through their skipper Badri Radzi on 19 minutes.
The poor condition of the pitch due to the rain affected the play of both teams and led to a passive remainder of the first half. At the beginning of the second the Red Warriors looked to attack as they made several changes, including bringing in youth playeer Aris Zaidi, who immediately tested PKNS goalkeeper Mohd Remezey.
The pressure eventually told on the visiting team just before the final whistle as Kelantan snatched all three points. Badri Radzi once again played a key role in the build up to the goal which was headed in by Zairul Fitree following a fine cross by Piya.
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