The Southern Tigers came away from a tough away fixture against Kelantan with all three points
BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
One of the tensest Malaysian football rivalries in recent years, between Kelantan and JDT I resumed earlier with both teams meeting in Kota Bharu for their MSL fixture. Making a return to Kelantan was JDT manager Bojan Hodak, who had taken the Red Warriors to two FA Cups, one Malaysia Cup and an MSL league title in the past two seasons.
However the match started off unfortunately for the homeside. Only two minutes into the match, Shakir Ali landed awkwardly following a jump while challenging for a long pass, and had to be taken off, replaced by new April transfer window signing Fitri Omar.
In the 14th minute skipper Badhri Razi had a wonderful chance to open the scoring from a freekick at the edge of the JDT box, but his shot had the power, but not the accuracy.
But Kelantan nevertheless found the opener just three minutes later, through Mohammed Ghaddar. He played a brilliant one-two with Fakri Saarani just outside the box, and the JDT defence failed to stop him as he stabbed the finishing shot past keeper, Izham Tarmizi.
Ten minutes later Ghaddar had a chance to double their lead and his tally, by being at the right position to receive a long cross from Farisham Ismail, but he failed to connect with the looping delivery.
But the visitors equalised somehow in the 33rd minute, when against the run of play, a long ball from deep within JDT's half eluded Kelantan leftback and former JDT man Nazri Ahmad, leaving Amri Yahyah with acres of space in the box to slot the ball past the onrushing Kelantan keeper, Khairul Fahmi.
Despite the two goals, the match was played in a rather tentative fashion, with both teams unable to keep a sure hold of the ball.
Just before the halftime whistle was blown, a dangerous low cross by Mahali Jasuli almost found Luciano Figueroa in front of the goal, but Farisham saved the Red Warriors' hide, intercepting the pass and somehow chipping it over the bar three meters from his own goal line.
It took 13 minutes for the second half to pick up, when Badhri again wasted a freekick from the left of the box. His run up to the ball was casual, but the attempt was anything but, and it almost went in near the bar. It clattered into the bar and went out instead.
It proved to be an unlucky night for Badhri, when in the 62nd minute, another freekick taken by him right at the edge of the JDT penalty box again hit the bar, this time at the top right corner post. Badhri and his team would be made to rue these missed chances.
Just as the match looked to end in a draw, the visitors nicked the win with three minutes of regulation time remaining. Mahali flicked the ball to Figueroa who was unmarked down the right, and the Argentine sent in a low cross that was tapped in by former JDT President Cup player, Fazly Mazlan at the left post.
So frustrated were Kelantan at going behind, that Fitri unprofessionally and childishly took it on Izham a minute later when challenging for the ball. Replay showed that he caught Izham on the knee and the head with his studs with the same challenge, but the referee amazingly only showed him a yellow card.
The match finished 2-1 to JDT I.