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Super League

  • February 15, 2014
  • • 20:45
  • • Stadium Majlis Perbandaran Selayang, Selayang

ATM 1-2 LionsXII: The Singapore Lions nick it at the end

ATM 1-2 LionsXII: The Singapore Lions nick it at the end

Alfie Lee / FAS

Fandi Ahmad's charges produced a comeback win against the Gladiators as Afiq Yunos' last minute strike earned them all 3 points.

At the Selayang Stadium, second place Armed Forces (ATM) faced reigning Super League champions LionsXII with a chance to go top, should results elsewhere favour them. ATM was missing the service of Affizie Faizal in midfield and thus had to field a rather old midfield duo of Hairuddin Omar and Rezal Zambery whose combined age was 69.
That though didn't stop ATM from speeding out of the starting blocks. As early as the 4th minute, they opened the scoring. Bruno Martelotto's searching corner kick was headed in by Amiridzwan Taj. The centre back's towering header was much too precise and much too strong for Izwan Mahbud. They were unlucky not to go further ahead when Christie Jayaseelan did well down the left hand side to dribble past Faritz Hameed and produced a good cut back for Hairuddin. However, the ATM skipper pulled his shot just wide of the post. 
It took the visitors almost halfway through the first half to get a stranglehold in the game. In the 33rd minute, Safuwan Baharudin almost scored from the halfway line. He only fell shot of replicating David Beckham's famous effort when Syed Adney managed to scramble back to tip the shot over the bar. Fandi Ahmad will be pleased with the manner in with his charges got back into the game with Hafiz Sujad down the left hand side, looking like the most threatening outlet. ATM's play got narrower and there was little room for Martelotto to created with a packed midfield. The visitors' confidence swelled heading into half time.
In almost similar fashion as the first half, there was another early goal in the second half. This time, it was LionsXII who struck early. In the 47th minute, ATM's Nor Fazly Alias misjudged a high ball and made the crucial mistake of allowing the ball to bounce. Khairul Amri didn't need a second invitation as he quickly nipped in before curling a beautiful grounder beyond the despairing dive of Syed Adney.
Sensing that Marlon James needed more support up front, B. Sathianathan immediately made the change to bring on Juan Arostegui for Jayaseelan. The impact was obvious as Lions' defence now has additional body to mark and thus free up James a little. Within a space of 3 minutes, James found himself with 2 shooting chances inside of the penalty box. To his apparent disappointment, neither of those shots were on target.
Rattled by this, Fandi responded by withdrawing his striker and goal scorer, Khairul Amri for a defensive midfielder in Zulfahmi Arifin. Their tactic was simple, soak up the pressure and rely on the counter attack with Shafiq Ghani being pushed into a more advanced role. Firdaus Karman was having a solid game in midfield, constantly shadowing Martelotto and thus nullified his creative talents. 
Just when it looked like the game with finish with a draw, the visitors somehow managed to go for the extra push and found the winning goal. From a corner kick in the last minute of the match, Afiq Yunos sneaked in ahead of Syed Adney to flick the ball into the net. A smash and grab effort from the Singaporean side but their fans won't be complaining. 
This is LionsXII first away win of the season. Perhaps the early prediction of their demise after a disappointing start to the season was a little premature.

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