When PKNS FC were drawn against Melaka in the second round of the 2019 Malaysia FA Cup, they would have anticipated a difficult match against an opponent filled with quality players. But the exact opposite happened as PKNS became one of eight teams to book their place in Thursday's draw.
There were surprises in the starting line-ups of both teams with Rajagopal leaving Gabriel Guerra on the bench for the returning Kpah Sherman while Zainal Abidin Hassan used Razman Roslan at left back despite having both Khuzaimi Piee and Faris Shah on the bench.
Melaka started the stronger in the first half and carved up half chances for their attackers in the opening period of the match. Patrick Reichelt headed wide from a corner kick in the 17th minute before Casagrande dragged his shot wide in the 20th minute after being put through by Raimi Nor.
PKNS slowly but surely crept back into the game and started to dictate play. Twice Cambodian Chan Vathanaka was presented with a shooting opportunity in close succession but while his shot in the 37th minute was blocked by Khairul Fahmi, he fluffed a far more presentable chance just four minutes after that.
But The Red Ants would not be denied just a minute later when Jang Suk-won brought down Sherman inside the box and referee Zulkifli Ahmad did not hesitate to point straight at the penalty spot. Midfielder K. Gurusamy confidently step up to dispatched the ensuing spot kick without any trouble to send the home side into a half time lead.
After the break, Melaka looked like they have got themselves the valuable equaliser when Casagrande rose highest to win an aerial ball but saw his header agonisingly hit the post and bounce away from danger. Surviving the scare seemed to once again woke PKNS up and they went on to triple their lead.
First Romel Morales danced through Melaka's defence in the 66th minute before laying off the ball to the dangerous Vathanaka who proceeded to slam a left footed shot into the bottom corner past Khairul Fahmi. Morales was once again the creator just two minutes later, sending Sherman through on goal and the Liberian calmly sidefoot home to give PKNS a 3-0 lead.
Melaka were awarded a late penalty in the 83rd minute when Safiq Rahim was brought down at the edge of the box. Casagrande tucked in the penalty by sending Zarif Irfan the wrong way to pull a goal back for the visitors. Then deep into stoppage time Shukor Adan headed in Melaka's second but it was too little too late for Zainal's side.
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