Kelantan halt six-game winless run with a slim win over ATM, who fell to their third consecutive defeat
BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Two currently troubled teams, Kelantan and ATM met earlier in their match day 11 fixture of the MSL, in Kota Bharu. Kelantan went into the match from the sixth position in the league, separated six points from the top, whereas the Gladiators are second from bottom, separated from safety by three points.
However if the home side were looking for a perfect start to the match, they were not to get it as striker Fakri Saarani pulled a muscle chasing after the ball right off the kick off, inside the first 30 seconds of the match. He would be taken off ten minutes later for Amar Rohidan.
Juan Manuel Arestogui came close to scoring in the third minute from a cross, but he was not limber enough to stick out a foot to stab in the the ball that was a little too high for his liking.
Three minutes later, Ghaddar almost opened the scoring. His low shot from the left bounced trickily on the pitch, was midjudged by ATM goalkeeper Syed Adney, and hit the far post.
In the 13th minute, centreback Obinna Nwaneri missed what could prove to be sitter of the season. He was fed by Ghaddar who had done well to find his way into the ATM penalty box, but with the goalmouth just five meters from him, he struck the ball towards the wrong side of the post.
Four minutes later, an uncharacteristically poor backpass by ATM captain Hairuddin Omar was intercepted by Kelantan's Muhammad Shawky instead who then squared it to Ghaddar. But the Lebanese forward took his time to make the killing blow, and Adney closed the angle to deny the fans the first goal of the match.
In the 38th minutes, Venice Elphi surged into the Kelantan box, dribbling past several players before being left with only with goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi to beat. His shot however went wide.
Two minutes from time, Ghaddar was fed by a cross from the right. The ball looked like it was going in at the top right corner, but Adney was alert and tipped it away. He then gave his defence yet another dressing down, for giving Ghaddar so much space.
The match did not pick up after the break either, with both teams losing possession easily. It was not until the 56th minute that another significant attempt was made, a header by Obinna that was again tipped over the bar by Adney. His reaction showed how upset he was to not be able to redeem his earlier miss.
But was finally beaten in the 60th minute, when a weak clearance header by ATM only got as far as Badhri Razi on the right of the penalty box. He sent a curling cross in to Shawky, who headed it past the goalkeeper. Four of ATM defenders surrounding him was caught ball-watching.
The 1-0 scoreline stayed until the end, with ATM failing to make anymore significant attempts.