Bagan and Ramblers out of race but continue to give their best

BAGAN United and Ramblers SC forced the promotion battle between Penang Youth FC and Chinese Wanderers to go down the wire as they threw a spanner into the works.

Although Bagan United and Ramblers had nothing to fight for, since both teams were already out of the promotion chase, they maintained their spirit and played their hearts out recently at the Polo Ground in Penang, to prevent Penang Youth FC and Chinese Wanderers from an early celebration.

Chinese Wanderers, in particular needed all three points to move into an unassailable position and put their promotion ticket to the Penang Chinese FA Super League beyond doubt.

But when Ramblers came from behind to force a 1-1 stalemate and Bagan United stunned Penang Youth with a 1-0 defeat, their promotion dreams were put into the balance.

With Chinese Wanderers and Penang Youth incidentally pitted to take on each other on the final day of the preliminary round, a fiery ending is on the cards.

Other than a promotion to the Super League action next season, it will also spell the eventual winner of this battle, a ticket to the knockout stage and a shot at the prestigious Lee Ewe Boo Cup.

This is because the competition rules have both the newly promoted Premier League teams join the top six finishers of the Super League in the knockout stage, beginning with the quarter-finals, in their challenge for the Lee Ewe Boo Cup which is donated by former Penang Chinese FA president Lee Soon Huat.

Although Chinese Wanderers will take a three-point cushion into this final preliminary outing, the 11 points garnered from three wins and two draws may not be enough unless they can secure at least a draw against Penang Youth.

Though Penang Youth have only eight points to show, an outright win in the final showdown would earn them a promotion instead, and should both teams be levelled at 11 points then their head-to-head clash would be taken into consideration.

Inpro FC, however, were not made to undergo such harrowing moments. Their thumping 8-0 win over basement side Nibong Tebal FA were enough to earn them an unassailable 12 points to assure them a top two finish.

It also earned them a place in the Super League next season apart from a play-off in the knockout stage for the Lee Ewe Boo Cup next month.

The battle for the six slots in the Super League has made the top tier League equally exciting.

This was evident if the string of surprised results which saw on-song teams like the newly promoted Butterworth City and Macallum SC being made to surrender their unbeaten run in their ongoing challenge.

Macallum SC was stunned by a winless Anak Malaysia, who carved out a 2-0 win in their Super League clash, Butterworth City was handed a rude wake-up call by Bukit Mertajam kingpins Sentosa FC, who like Anak Malaysia, also ended their winless run with a sensational 3-1 win.

With Chinese Recreation Club picking up a precious point in their outing against Paya Terubong SC in another Super League clash, it has allowed them to level up with the League leader with an identical 10 points.

Butterworth City, however, still continued to sit fancy at the top of the pile on a better goal difference.

Sentosa firmly hauled themselves back into the reckoning for a ticket to the knockout stage as the five points earned from a win and two draws catapulted them into sixth spot in the league table, just one point adrift of Timuran SC and Paya Terubong and two behind third placed Macallum FC.

With just four weeks of competition left in the preliminary, it should prove to be an exciting and tight finish.

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