KOTA KINABALU: Rusty Sabah nicked a slim 1-0 victory over KL Pos Malaysia to eventually resume their Premier League challenge with a win at the Likas Stadium last night.
And they have keeper Azizon Abdul Kadir to thank for, for his man-of-the-match performance in a game that could have gone either way.
Sabah found out that not playing any competitive friendly matches during the recent one-month break backfired on them as they looked hapless throughout despite giving the best they could in the match.
Fortunately for the Gary Phillips side, they managed to continue where they left off prior to the break by bagging all the three points that could see them move to third in the 12-team standings.
However, it will depend on the result of the match between third-placed Armed Forces and table toppers KL Felda United FC.
A victory for KL Felda will see Sabah pip Armed Forces.
But what is certain is Sabah is assured of fourth place, at least for now, as the 19 points in the bag was enough to see them unseat Harimau Muda, who have 17 points.
Last night, it was the visitors that had the better chances early in the game, and could have taken the lead in the 17th minute when striker Mohd Sawai Din picked up a rebound but fortunately for Sabah his attempt from inside the six-yard box went wide.
In the 25th minute, Rahim Abu Bakar squandered another opportunity for the visiting team. He had only the Sabah keeper to beat, but his attempt from inside the box went straight into Azizon’s arms.
It was from that move, that Sabah launched a quick counter attack where Bobby Gonzales squandered a chance to put his side in front by making a weak attempt at the KL Pos goal.
But in less than 30 seconds later, he managed to make amends though when he was put through by Zainizam Marjan to go one on one with the KL Pos Malaysia keeper Mohd Shahruddin Ismail.
This time, Bobby was on target as he lobbed the ball from just inside the box defeating the hapless onrushing custodian.
Late in the first half, Mohd Farid Saibun saw his beautifully taken free kick from about 25 metres out palmed away for a fruitless corner before Mohd Farid Ideris saw his first half stoppage time effort from an acute angle cleared off the line by a KL Plus defender.
Early in the second half, Mohd Zafran Oli Bullah thought he had already scored the equaliser for his side with a thunderous drive from 25 metres, but only to find his attempt cleared by Azizon for a corner.
Azizon was in the centre of action again not long after when he faced Mohd Hanifuddin Abd Rahman. The KL Pos Malaysia midfielder only had Azizon to beat, but failed to beat the former international keeper, by shooting wide from close range, as the onrushing Azizon had his goalmouth covered.
Later on, there were several anxious moments for both sides, but the scoreline remained as Bobby turned out to be the hero of the night by netting the solitary goal that saw Sabah’s quest for glory remain intact.