Football: Saramsak puts Kedah closer to title

SHAH ALAM: Defending champions Kedah have opened up a massive eight-point lead in the Super League after defeating Selangor 1-0 in a top-of-the-table clash at the Shah Alam Stadium last night.

The Canaries have 50 points and only need four more points from their four remaining matches to retain the crown.

Stand-in striker Saramsak Kram was Kedah’s hero, scoring the solitary goal in the 18th minute.

Saramsak got the nod to play after regular striker Badrul Bakhtiar left for London last night for a two-week training stint with Chelsea.

Aerial duel: Kedah keeper Helmi Eliza Elias gets to the ball ahead of Selangor’s Safee Sali at the Shah Alam Stadium last night. – KAMAL SELLEHUDDIN/ The Star

The win stretches Kedah’s unbeaten streak to 14 matches, a run that began on Jan 1.

Selangor, playing in front of 45,000 fans, failed to tuck in the chances that came their way. They even had 10 corners, but all to no avail.

The Red Giants also had to contend with an in-form Kedah goalkeeper Helmi Eliza Elias, easily the man-of-the match for his outstanding performance between the posts.

Selangor got off to a promising start, pinning the visitors in their own half in the opening quarter but hitmen Frank Seator, Mohd Safee Sali and Indra Putra Mahayuddin failed to breach the compact Kedah defence, marshalled by skipper Bernard Huggins.

Instead, it was Kedah who sent their fans into a frenzy when Saramsak latched onto Marlon James’ cross to stab the ball home past the diving Selangor custodian Suffian Abdul Rahman in the 18th minute.

Selangor could have equalised two minutes later when Safee was presented with an open chance in front of goal but his stiff grounder was well saved by goalkeeper Helmi Eliza Elias.

The Red Giants continued to push forward after the breather, allowing Kedah to hit them on the break.

And in one of their counter-attacks, Kedah’s James nearly found the net again but the lanky striker’s header hit the woodwork in the 49th minute.

It just wasn’t Selangor’s night really. In the 53rd minute, Safee had a glorious chance to equalise but his shot deflected off goalkeeper Helmi’s chest and hit the post.

Kedah custodian Helmi was the busier of the two goalkeepers but the Canaries managed to hold on for a well-deserved win.

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