Both sides had notable absentees with Badri Radzi missing out through fever while the travelling side started without their sensational striker Edward Wilson. Nevertheless, the match began at a very high tempo.
The first chance of the game came in the 9th minute through Kelantan's trialist Salim Arrache who mustered a shot way wide of the goal. Both sides pushed upfront at every opportunity. Nur Iskandar could have given Semen Padang the lead in the 23rd minute when he found himself in a good position after dribbling pass two players, only to have his shot hit the woodwork.
Later, Titus Bonai was played through brilliantly by Ellie Aiboy but his final attempt was saved well by Syazwan. Per contra, the away side finally took a much deserved lead in the 29th minute when Iskandar tapped in after Bonai left the Kelantan defence in shambles.
The fiery combination of Bonai and Aiboy pretty much summed up the first half. Kelantan, however, were evidently going for the kill after the break. Indra Putra and Faiz Subri were brought on to beef up their attack - the former came close with a shot in the 55th minute.
Kelantan finally restored parity in the 60th minute. A great ball from substitute Faiz Subri found the unmarked Dimi Petratos. The Australian comfortably fired a shot past Semen's goalkeeper to bring Kelantan back into the game.
The Red Warriors brought on another trialist Dickson Nwakehe to try for the win. Unsurprisingly, he made an instant impact immediately after coming on. His first shot in the 62nd minute went wide. To his dismay, Faiz Subri also missed a golden opportunity after receving a pass from Nwakehe.
Both sides attacked frantically in the last 20 minutes but besides a flurry of meek attempts, neither team got the winning goal. The score remained at 1-1.
Semen Padang headed home the happier side though. They leave with the away-goal advantage going into the second leg of this fixture at the Haji Agus Salim Stadium in Padang on 7 February.