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Hero I-League: Punjab survive late scare to beat Indian Arrows

Kalyani, Feb 9: RoundGlass Punjab moved up to the second spot on the Hero I-League standings after they beat Indian Arrows 2-1 at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium in Kalyani on Tuesday.

A brace from debutant and eventual Hero of the Match Papa Babacar Diawara ensured that RoundGlass Punjab picked up all three points despite a late goal by Vellington Fernandes.

RoundGlass Punjab had the first opportunity in the 4th minute, but Joseba Beitia’s in-swinging corner was cleared at the first post itself. The Indian Arrows broke away with Gurkirat Singh in the 8th minute but Samad Ali had to put in a brave sliding challenge to stop him.

The AIFF’s developmental side put in an equal fight in the midfield in the opening exchanges of the game, and as a result, were able to hold RoundGlass Punjab far away from their goal. Curtis Fleming’s side came close to breaking the deadlock in the 16th minute.

Bikash Yumnum’s long throw was turned on to his own crossbar by Tankadhar Bag. With the keeper Ahaan Prakash off his line, Chencho Gyeltshen attempted an overhead kick but Tankadhar made up for his earlier error with a brilliant goal-line clearance.

Indian Arrows had a golden opportunity to open the scoring on the 29th minute. Vibin released Patre, who could not send his shot past the Punjab keeper Kiran Kumar Limbu. A minute later, Punjab replied back with an opportunity of their own, but Aahaan Prakash was alert and reached a lobbed pass through the centre before Papa Diawara could.

After opportunities came for both sides, the opener came in the 35th-minute as Papa Babacar Diawara brought down Aphaoba Singh’s cross before smashing it past Ahaan Prakash in the Arrows goal.

RoundGlass Punjab immediately returned looking for the second goal, but RV Hormipam could not turn his volley from Joseba Beitia’s cross onto the goal.

RoundGlass kept on looking for the second goal towards the end of the first half. Chencho’s dipping strike was palmed away brilliantly by Ahaan in the 44th minute, ensuring RoundGlass Punjab had only a single-goal lead at halftime.

Curtis Fleming’s side continued attacking the Arrows goal after the restart. Papa Diawara almost doubled their lead in the 48th minute, but his volley bounced just wide of Ahaan’s far post. The Senegalese striker almost turned provider in the 52nd minute, but his cross across the area for Chencho was intercepted by Ahaan.

RoundGlass Punjab kept on knocking the Arrows defence and reaped rewards in the 56th minute. Joseba Beitia found Papa Diawara, as the latter powered his header from close range and doubled his side’s lead. Beitia almost added a third from distance, but his long-ranger was just wide of the goal.

The Fleming-coached side then called on the experience of their players as they slowed down the game. However, a number of attacking changes made by Shanmugan Venkatesh altered the flow of the game. On the 85th minute, Aahaan made another brilliant save to deny Aphaoba Singh.

A couple of minutes later, Vellington Fernandes reached substitute Abdul Hannan’s cut-back cross, to pull a goal back. Parthib Gogoi created a chance for himself deep into added time, but his long ranger was safely handled by Limbu. RoundGlass Punjab ran down the clock to notch-up their second win on the run in the Hero I-League.

Source: AIFF Release

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Story first published: Tuesday, February 9, 2021, 20:15 [IST]
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