KOTA KINABALU: Sabah are edging closer to the summit of the Premier League after notching a comfortable 4-0 victory over lowly Shahzan Muda at the Likas Stadium last night.
And with table toppers KL Felda United dropping points against Police after they were held to a one-all draw in an away battle, they saw their three-point lead over second placed Selangor PKNS being slashed to one point.
Like Sabah, PKNS also registered a convincing victory defeating KL Pos Malaysia 4-1 on the road.
But Sabah, who are two points behind the league leaders, have a game in hand over the top two sides, and could go top with victory over Johor MP Muar on Friday, in a postponed match.
That will be the only match of the night as the rest of the teams are taking a six-week break after last night’s matches, and would only resume their campaign on July 12, with the exception of Sarawak, who will take on Sabah away three days earlier (July 9).
Felda are still leading on 40 points, followed by PKNS 39, and Sabah 38.
Last night, it was not the best of starts for the home side, but a brace from Bobby Gonzales and a goal apiece from Mohd Farid Ideris and second-half substitute Razlan Oto assured them of the maximum points.
It could have been a goal galore night from the Gary Phillips’ boys if not for some poor finishing.
And the Sabah coach and manager was right in his pre-match comment that it was indeed not such an easy game as the amateur-like Pahang-based club side did have a couple of chances to spoil the home team’s night.
Fortunately for Sabah, none of the opponents’ attempts found the net.
It was a scrappy start for the homesters as they played to the opponents’ tempo.
But they were not to be denied from taking the lead in the 13th minute when Bobby Gonzales slotted home from close range off a cross by Mohd Farid Saibun from the left side of the field.
Mohd Farid Ideris could have put Sabah 2-0 up in the 20th minute. Farid chested the ball from a long range cross from Farid Saibun only to find his close range effort hit the side netting.
Soon after, Farid found his effort blocked by the keeper for a fruitless corner.
Early in the second half, Zainizam Marjan saw his 25-metre free kick go inches wide before Bobby Gonzales finally extended Sabah’s lead with a fluke goal from about 20 metres out seven minutes after the break.
Ten minutes later, Bobby could have completed his hat-trick, but he failed to connect the ball into the empty net from close range.
And in the 67th minute, Mohd Farid Ideris finally put his name on the score-sheet after being put through by Radzi Mohd Hussin before slotting home a grounder that defeated the hapless Shahzan Muda custodian Ahmad Syahidan Abdul Mubin.
In the 72nd minute, Sabah coach brought in Zaykiel Leong for Zainziam Marjan before replacing Farid Ideris with Razlan Oto a minute later.
And barely six minutes on the field, Razlan scored Sabah’s fourth goal with a clever effort, lobbing the ball past the keeper from inside the penalty box.
Later on, Bobby was twice presented with a chance to score a hat-trick. But it was a case of so near but yet so far for the Sabah striker.
In the 80th minute, he already managed to put the ball into the back of the net but unfortunately he was ruled off side.
Then he saw his attempt cleared by the defender for a corner.