Selangor winless in five after Kelantan draw

Selangor had to settle for a point for a fifth straight Malaysia Super League game after playing out a 1-1 draw at defending champions Kelantan on Saturday.

MSL: Selangor vs Kelantan
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

Following a goalless first half at the Sultan Mohammad IV Stadium, Australian centre-back Adam Griffiths put the visitors in front in the 55th minute with a thumping header, but Zairo Anuar Zalani came off the bench to equalise for Kelantan six minutes after the hour mark to earn his side a share of the spoils.

The result also meant that neither side were able to bounce back from their midweek AFC Cup exits with a win; the Red Warriors having been eliminated by Hong Kong's Kitchee while Selangor lost to New Radiant of Maldives.

But it was the Red Giants who showed the greater initiative on Saturday evening and they thought they had opened the scoring as early as the eighth minute when Francis Forkey Doe tapped home on the rebound, after opposition goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi made two excellent saves to deny Fitri Shazwan Raduwan from close range.

However, the linesman's flag came to the hosts' rescue and replays did show it was the right call as Doe had been in an offside position.

Four minutes later, Doe caused more problems for the Kelantan defence when he made his way past Obinna Nwaneri and Fahmi down the left, but with the goal gaping, he could only watch as his shot was brilliantly blocked by a recovering Azizi Mat Rose.

With Selangor enjoying the better of the opening proceedings, the Red Warriors were largely restricted to shots from distance; Ahmad Fakri Saarani, Norfarhan Muhammad and Indra Putra Mahayuddin all sending long-range efforts off target.

Four minutes after the half-hour mark, they had their first real chance when Badhri Radzi's dangerous right-wing cross was flicked on by Indra Putra into the path of Obinna, but he was just unable to keep his effort on target at the back post.

Fahmi then had to make another save to keep visitors at bay in the 37th minute when he got a vital touch on K. Gurusamy's freekick before Griffiths could pounce, before his opposite number Norazlan Razali did the same to keep out a rasping drive by Nik Shahrul Azim to ensure both sides went in level at the break.

The Red Giants were then dealt a blow in the 53rd minute when pacy winger K. Solehin limped off injured and had to be replaced by Raimi Nor, but it took the substitute just two minutes to make an instant impact.

Lining up a freekick on the right, the 27-year-old floated a pinpoint freekick into the six-yard box, where Griffiths proceeded to tower over the opposition and send a firm header into the back of the net.

Having seen Irfan Bakti make a substitution to good effect, Kelantan coach Bojan Hodak then decided to bring on Zairo Anuar Zalani for the ineffective Ahmad Fakri Saarani in the 59th minute, and just seconds after coming on, he send a good effort just wide of the far post after receiving the ball from Norfarhan on the edge of the area.

But six minutes later, the former T-Team star made no mistake when he was once again presented with a shooting opportunity 25 yards out from goal, sending a powerful strike past Norazlan and into the bottom corner.

And 17 minutes from time, fellow substitute Faiz Subri, who moved to Kelantan with Zairo at the start of the year, had a golden opportunity to score the winner when his late run into the box was picked out by a neat pass from Indra Putra, only for him to blast way over from eight yards.

As the match wore on, the chances dried up and both sides eventually had to settle for a point, which does little good for either of their ailing title aspirations.

Kelantan: Khairul Fahmi, Nik Shahrul Azim, Obinna Nwaneri, Azizi Mat Rose, Daudsu Jamaluddin, Shakir Shaari, Badhri Radzi (Zairul Fitree Ishak 85'), Norfarhan Muhammad, Khairul Izuan Rosli (Faiz Subri 46'), Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Ahmad Fakri Saarani (Zairo Anuar Zalani 59').

Selangor:  Norazlan Razali, Mahalli Jasuli, Adam Griffiths, Bunyamin Umar (Nasriq Baharom 24'), Asraruddin Putra Omar, K. Solehin (Raimi Nor 53'), K. Gurusamy, Abdul Shukor Jusoh, Fitri Shazwan Raduwan, Afiq Azmi (Ramzul Zahini 77'), Francis Forkey Doe.

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