Melaka came into the match against PJ City FC in 7th spot in the Super League standings but a 2-1 win coupled with Perak's defeat to Johor Darul Ta'zim meant that Zainal Abidin Hassan's side shot up to fourth in the standings with three rounds of matches left to play.
Pedro Henrique had put the home side ahead in the 13th minute but the visitors turned the table around late in the first half through goals from Luka Milunovic (37') and Jang Suk-won (45') to take a half time lead. They eventually held off PJ City to claim all three points, much to the delight of Zainal.
"This is an important three points to improve our standing from seventh to fourth. Even though we were trailing, we showed a game with a lot of discipline and managed to come back to take the lead at the end of the first half. But the opposite happened in the second half which put us under a lot of pressure, luckily we managed to hold out," said Zainal in the post-match press conference.
In the initial team line-up submitted, Zainal had selected the experienced Safiq Rahim to start but chose to amend his decision after the warm-up session as the latter felt uncomfortable with the wet and heavy pitch. Safiq who featured in the JDT All-Stars match just a week ago, was on the back from injury and it was a risk Zainal did not want to take.
Instead former Selangor player, Saiful Riduwan was named to replace Safiq right from the start and he put in a commendable shift alongside Dominic Balic to thwart PJ City time and again in the 90 minutes. Zainal was pleased the decision worked but is also keeping his fingers crossed that the mercurial Safiq will be available when Melaka play PKNP FC on July 9.
"Safiq just came back from injury and during training, there has been a lot of improvement in his fitness. But after the heavy rain and taking into consideration the condition on the pitch, he told me honestly that he can play but only at 70% of his level. So I took the decision to rest him. Saiful came in and did an excellent job," added Zainal.
Follow Goal Malaysia on Instagram
Rahsia jurulatih Selangor B. Satiananthan dalam poket bekas anak buahnya yang kini memimpin @feldaunitedfc, Nidzam Jamil? Relegation-battlers FELDA UNITED FC have won once and drawn once this season against the more-fancied Selangor, whom they will face again on Sunday. Is the Fighters' head coach Nidzam Jamil already aware of Red Giants boss and former mentor B. Satiananthan's tactics?