Roundglass Punjab clinched a narrow win in the final contest of the day.

A late goal from substitute Brijesh Giri saw Indian Arrows bag all three points against Kenkre FC in a bottom-of-the-table encounter, here at the Naihati Stadium. Giri came on as a second half substitute in the game and managed to get on the end of a lucrative cross from Parthib Gogoi to hand Arrows their second win of the I-League 2021-22 season.

The first half started with both sides testing the waters. Kenkre were committing unnecessary fouls inside their own half, giving Indian Arrows a chance at goal. However, the Arrows were unable to take advantage of the set-pieces. Lalchhanhima Sailo was the first one to attempt a long-range free kick but saw his effort sail way over the bar.

After a series of attacks by Indian Arrows, Kenkre FC finally found themselves in the opposition’s box. Siddharth Colaco crossed the ball in from the right flank and it was well received by Aravindraj Rajan right in front of goal. Rajan struck a fierce strike towards goal but it was blocked bravely by defender Tankadhar Bag.

Shortly after Kenkre had an opportunity to put themselves ahead, Arrows swarmed forward again, this time with Parthib Gogoi. The striker managed to beat the keeper with his strike but the ball hit the inside of the far post and somehow stayed out before eventually getting cleared out of play. Despite the unlucky miss, Arrows kept advancing forward in search of an opener.

Gogoi and Sailo clicked well and the Kenkre defence was looking a bit shaky on their left side. However, Kenkre keeper Padam Chettri made a couple of extremely important saves to keep the Arrows at bay. Kenkre were also dealt an injury blow when defender Jishnu Balakrishnan was taken off towards the end of the first half due to a hamstring injury.

In the second half, Al Azhar Delhiwala, who had come on for Balakrishnan, lobbed a good-looking ball in the Arrows box but no Kenkre player got to it. Ranjeet Pandre came extremely close to giving Kenkre the lead but his header was just millimetres wide of the post with the keeper rooted in his spot.

Both sides were astoundingly complacent with their passing especially in the final third while quite a few long range shots were attempted and none of them concerned the keepers. Around the hour mark, Arrows were forced to make a substitution as Amandeep was down and injured. Brijesh Giri came on to replace the defender.

Giri’s first contribution to the game was a tame shot that was straight at the keeper. Arrows kept advancing but the Kenkre defence with Zacharie Mbenda at its heart was proving to be a frustrating blockade for the young attackers. Ranjeet Pandre and Siddharth Colaco prowled forward looking to salvage something but keeper Zahid Bukhari halted all shots that came to him.

The deadlock was broken just two minutes from time when Giri darted into the Kenkre box to get on the end of a perfect cross from Gogoi. Giri simply side footed the low cross past a helpless Padam Chettri giving Indian Arrows a winner in the dying minutes of the game.

With only their second victory of the season, Indian Arrows leapfrog Sudeva and move into 11th place. Kenkre remain rooted to the bottom of the table and are still the only team without a win so far this season.

Gokulam Kerala thrashes Sudeva Delhi comfortably by four goals

Gokulam Kerala FC ascended back to the top of the Hero I-League 2021/22 table as they eased past Sudeva Delhi FC with a comfortable 4-0 win. Luka Majcen was the star of the match as he scored a hat-trick and also managed to climb on top of the list of goalscorers in the season. Thahir Zaman also found himself on target for the defending champions, while Jithin MS proved to be the driving force behind their attacking prowess. Sudeva Delhi fought hard till the final whistle, but their struggles inside the box allowed Gokulam to pick up all the three points.

The match started on an expected note as Gokulam Kerala enjoyed possession in starting minutes and pressed deeper inside Sudeva Delhi’s half. In the 6th minute, Sudeva received a set-piece opportunity but the feeble cross from R Lawmnasangzuala was easily defended by Gokulam Kerala.  A few minutes later, Sudeva’s Akbar Khan broke free on the right, but Ahmed Razeek pushed him to stop the attacking move, earning himself an early yellow card.

Sudeva Delhi FC goalkeeper Sachin Jha was tested with a series of attacking moves from Gokulam. In the 14th minute, Majcen received a pass from Jithin inside the box, but his shot was deflected away by Nishchal Chandan at the goal line. The ensuing corner saw Bouba Aminou heading the ball on target, only to be saved by Sachin Jha.

A couple of minutes later, Jithin sent a penetrating cross inside the box which was converted by Majcen to give Gokulam Kerala a 1-0 lead. Minutes later, the defending champions suffered a setback as Pawan Kumar was stretchered off the field, and Alex Saji was brought in as a substitute. Zaman doubled Gokulam Kerala’s lead in the 27th minute as he picked up a sublime pass from the left and got his left foot on the ball to struck it on to the back of the nets.

The second goal forced Sudeva Delhi to showcase some urgency and they started getting more on the ball and creating chances, but struggled in the attacking third. Jithin’s penetrating passes continued to trouble Sudeva Delhi’s defence as clock ticked down in the first half. The Malabarians defended well to close out the first 45 minutes of the match and headed into the half time with a comfortable 2-0 lead.

Sudeva Delhi showcased their intent straightaway at the start of the second half as they pushed deeper inside the Malabarians half. Majcen’s speedy runs through the center troubled Sudeva’s defence, but they remained calm and prevented any dangerous balls on the target. Akbar’s shot from outside went wide in the 51st minute as Sudeva missed an opportunity to reduce the deficit.

In the 58th minute, Majcen chipped a stunning pass towards Zaman in front of the nets, but the awkward angle allowed goalkeeper Sachin Jha to grab the ball. Minutes later, Razeek cut back a cross from the left for Majcen to tap the ball inside the nets to get another goal, taking his total tally of goals in the season to 11.

As the match entered the final quarter, both teams brought on fresh legs on the pitch. Sudeva Delhi’s Sreyas tried to go for a shot on target from a close distance, but substitute Alex Saji managed to deflect it away. In the 80th minute, William Pauliankhum went for, perhaps, the best shot of the match from Sudeva Delhi, but goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar dived to his right to make the save for Gokulam Kerala.

As the clock ticked down, Gokulam Kerala sat down deep inside their own half while Sudeva Delhi tried to make headways to get a goal back for their side. In the 86th minute, Majcen received a long pass and he struck it into the back of the nets from outside the box. Seeing goalkeeper Sachin Jha out of his position, Majcen made the most of the opportunity and completed his hat-trick to help Gokulam Kerala take a 4-0 lead and close out the match, in the process. The six-minute injury time proved to be a mere formality as Gokulam Kerala picked up a formidable 4-0 win.

RoundGlass Punjab FC edge pasts TRAU FC narrowly

RoundGlass Punjab FC picked up its fourth win in a row in the I-League 2021-22 season on Friday after defeating Manipuri outfit TRAU FC by a 1-0 margin at the Naihati Stadium in West Bengal. Striker Kurtis Guthrie scored the decisive goal of the game in the 35th minute.

With this result, the Club regained third position on the league’s standings and now stands four points behind table toppers Gokulam Kerala FC and two behind Mohammedan SC.

The first half kicked off with RoundGlass Punjab FC on the front foot, with Freddy Lallawmawma testing the keeper as early as the third minute. Five minutes later, Maheson Singh drove towards goal and fired in an effort that went just wide of the post.

The pressure continued to mount on the TRAU defence as Guthrie’s shot on the turn was narrowly off target in the 21st minute, and the Englishman almost got on the end of a headed pass inside the penalty box from Travis Major, only to be denied by a last-second intervention.

With ten minutes to play in the first half, Guthrie opened the scoring as RoundGlass Punjab FC’s dominance bore fruit. The ball was won high up the pitch and laid off to Joseba Beitia, who produced an inch-perfect cross from the right flank for Guthrie to calmly head home and take his scoring tally for the season to double figures.

Guthrie almost doubled his tally in the 41st minute after getting his head to a cross from the left side but was denied by rival custodian Amrit Gope. At the break, the scoreline read 1-0 in favour of RoundGlass Punjab FC.

The Club picked up from where it left off in the second half, with Freddy’s curling effort from the edge of the penalty area flying just over the crossbar in the 48th minute. Five minutes later, he again won the ball close to the opposition goal and unleashed a drive that stung Gope’s palms once more.

TRAU looked to catch RoundGlass Punjab FC on the break on a couple of occasions, and goalkeeper Jaspreet Singh had to be alert to keep out a shot from Bishorjit Meitei in the 68th minute.

Substitutes Rupert Nongrum and Aphaoba Singh were brought on as well, with the former being denied his third goal in three games in the 88th minute, as his shot from six yards out was saved. In the end, the match drew to a close with the scoreline reading 1-0 in favour of RoundGlass Punjab FC.

In its next match, the Club will face table toppers Gokulam Kerala FC on April 19, which will be the final game for both teams in the league’s first phase.

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