ATM 0-1 Perak: Gladiators done in by red card and penalty
A dismal final stretch of the season for ATM compounded with 1-0 loss at home to Perak as Paulo Rangel scores a penalty
By Zulhilmi Zainal
Both ATM and Perak went into this match with only pride to play for; ATM wanting to avoid ending their first season back in the Malaysian Super League lower than fourth, and Perak hoping to climb up to seventh. The brick in-the-wall nature of this final fixture meant that attendance was lower than usual, estimated to be at 1,500, and even the chants sung by the usually boisterous ATM fans seemed to have lost its usual exuberance.
A through pass to striker Marlon Alex James in the sixth minute almost found the Gladiators an early goal, but Perak goalkeeper was out like a shot to clear the ball.
In the 17th minute, James missed another chance, after being gifted the ball in front from a Perak defender’s deflection. He tried a low drive into the bottom far corner, but the ball went just wide.
A minute later, Perak had their first chance. A pin-point cross from Yong Kuong Yong from the left found Paulo Rangel, but his header right in front of the goal went down before bouncing up and over the post to the home side’s relief.
The forward then spent the next ten minutes or so trying to drift past the ATM defence, but he kept failing to time his run well.
A pass to Abdul Hadi Yahya in the box could have given Perak the lead two minutes from halftime, and ended the forward’s dismal season on a happier note, but his low drive was blocked by Farizal Harun confidently.
However Farizal was not as confident with his subsequent attempt to throw the ball upfield, finding a Perak midfielder instead. He was fortunate that when the ball was then delivered to Rangel in the box, the Brazilian's finishing inexplicably eluded him. The first half finished a dreary 0-0.
Ten minutes after the second half began, a freekick taken by Rezal Zambery from the left of the Perak penalty box found centreback Amiridzwan Taj, but his header went wide.
In the 63rd minute, Marlon sent in a low cross from the right, and Christie Jayaseelan did everything well to connect with it. However, Farizal Marlias did better to palm away from a point-blank range at what looked to be a sure goal.
As the match looked as if it was going to finish a goalless draw, a series of events beginning in the 75th minute broke the deadlock. Rangel finally timed his run well to chase down a through pass, but he was brought down by ATM last man Affize Mamat, who was immediately sent off by the ref for the foul. A freekick was taken, but an ATM player in the wall was adjudged to have blocked the attempt with a hand, and a penalty was given. Rangel converted with ease.
The match finished 1-0 to the visitors, and the loss sees ATM slipping to fifth, a far cry from their best ever position in the league; they were second place just a month ago. Whereas for Perak, this win and PKNS’ loss to Pahang meant that they end this year’s league in eighth.
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