A perfectly executed header by Khairul Asyraf inspired Perak to a pivotal 2-1 victory over a jaded Kelantan side
The game started on a bright note with both sides pushing on the offence, Kelantan looked incredibly lively early on in the game, as they sprayed passes all around the pitch. In fact, they were the first side to register an attack as Forkey Doe's shot was blocked away by Tuah Iskandar.
Moments later, Perak conceded a free kick at the edge of the box. Piya stepped up, but his audacious attempt was tipped away to safety by Razi Effendi. On the 9th minute, Shawky tried his luck with a shot from just outside the box, but yet again, Razi was equal to it.
At this point, Perak were beginning to get into the game as they started keeping hold of possession. And it ultimately paid dividends on the 12th minute as Ahmad Sukri found the back of the net from close range to strike first blood for the home side.
Perak visibly picked their momentum up from that point, pushing forward relentlessly. But at the same time Forkey Doe struggled to get into the match, being blocked out by Kafando. Having said that, Fakri did find some space on the left flank and curled a cross into the box, but yet again the Perak defence was solid enough to clear it away.
As the half time whistle approached Perak could have doubled their lead. A speedy run from Ridzuan Azly down the left flank saw him beat two defenders before he pulled back for Eliel Guardiano, whose shot just missed the target by inches.
Nonetheless, Perak went into half time with 1-0 lead.
After the break, the Seladangs came out firing on all cylinders, A terrific diagonal pass from Nasir Basharuddin played Ridzuan Azly through, but Khairul Fahmi was quick to leave his line and clear it away. Minutes later, Azmeer found space on the left flank but his attempted cross was smacked away by Obinna Nwaneri.
But Kelantan finally restored parity on the 55th minute courtesy of a fantastic finish from Mohammed Shawky. The goal lifted their spirits up as they began playing with much more confidence on the ball.
And they came incredibly close to taking the lead as a pacy breakaway from Wan Zaharulnizam lead to him laying off a decent pass over to Shakir Ali, but the ex-Kedah forward misplaced his attempted pass to Fakri.
Abu Bakar Fadzim then decided to ring the change by introducing Khairul Asyraf in place of Zelimir Terkes and it did change the tempo for Perak. All of a sudden they had extra pace upfront and it eventually did the trick for them. A counter attack from Ridzuan earned a free kick for them, and Khairul headed home from the delivery to restore Perak's lead.
Steve Darby also decided to go for the kill by replacing Forkey Doe with Ghaddar on the 82nd minute. But Perak kept their defence tight and withstood a flurry of late attacks from the Red Warriors to clinch a morale-boosting win at home.