TRAU and Indian Arrows play out a stalemate in the final game of the day.
Kenkre FC put on a monumental show to log their maiden Hero I-League 2021-22 win with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Sudeva Delhi FC at the Kalyani Stadium. Three second half strikes not only meant seeking revenge of the loss they suffered in the earlier phase but also shrug off the 10 losses they endured so far and instead open up a new chapter of their presence in the I-League.
Defensive errors by Sudeva Delhi led to Akeraj Martins profit with an angled finish, Vijay Nagappan slotted off a deflection and Kynsailang Khongsit intelligently converging on a back-header and score with just him and the open goal in sight.
Sudeva Delhi began doing the early running were territorially dominant. As a result, Kenkre FC played defenders for most of the first ten minutes of play.
As the game progressed, Sudeva Delhi had Lungkim Khongsai log the first attempt on goal. An ambitious right-footer from just outside the box, was not the best effort but the intent certainly converted Sudeva Delhi’s effort on the field into keeping Kenkre FC on the alert.
Past the ten-minute mark, Kenkre, now a settled unit by slowing down the pace of the game had the best attempt. A slow build up from the back had Kiran Pandre find Ranjeet Pandre in the clear mid-way into the Sudeva half. Ranjeet was quick to combine with Siddharth Colaco, which left a fast-moving Ranjeet in control. Moving ahead in a flash, Ranjeet got past Pulkiitveer Choudhary and Vanlalzuidika Chhaakchhuak and a fast-retrieving skipper Sairuatkima only to end up spraying his attempt wide at the second post.
Sudeva, meanwhile, looked threatening from the left wing with Pulkiitveer time and again looping in crosses only to have no takers at the other end and Kenkre FC’s crowded defense standing up to the occasion.
Against the run of play, Kenkre FC almost spelt trouble for themselves. Defender Banpynkhrawnam Nongkhlaw in the most casual approach find himself lose the ball in the box but have goalkeeper Padam Chettri covered the situation.
At the other end, Kenkre FC had Pandre oozing with confidence. Finding space on the right Pandre beat William Pauliankhum to cross over only to have his effort end up in a maze of red legs who cleared the danger.
The Mumbai side had another chance come by. Vijay Nagappan carried the ball deep on the left and did well to find Akeraj Martins with open space on the right. What followed was a Martins cross that Pandre missed heading from handshaking distance.
Nearing half time, Sudeva Delhi had an attempt go wide. Shubho Paul on top of the box after Khongsai set him up was lightening quick to release a right-footer that went close and wide at the second post.
Switching sides, Kenkre FC took the field with purpose. Minutes after resumption, Aniket Panchal left fly from 30 yards that needed Sudeva Delhi’s goalkeeper Sachin Jha full attention as he blocked and nullified the stiff effort.
The attempt seemed like a warning as Kenkre FC thereafter changed their luck with two-goals in a span of less than two minutes.
The first goal was a gift that Sudeva Delhi defender Zuidika created for his opponent. A casual back pass to goalkeeper Jha on the left path, resulted in Pandre attacking the ball and ending up nudging to Martins positioned wide. Martins with the opportunity made no mistake driving the ball past the custodian at the second post to make it 1-0.
Two minutes later, Kenkre for the first time took a 2-0 lead off a well-combined move. Substitute Pravitto Raju did well to find Panchal on the edge of the box, who with one touch released to find Vijay Nagappan just inside the box. Nagappan controlled moved a step to finish off his attempt which went off Zuidika.
Sudeva Delhi seeking to reduce the margin pushed high and, in the process, conceded their third goal four minutes into injury time.
The goal was a result of persistence. Khongsit, chasing a long ball pumped by Kenkre FC substitute Ali Azhar Delhiwala, capitalised on a feeble back-header by Pulkiitveer intended for the goalkeeper. However, what followed was Khongsit managing to get the ball past Sachin Jha’s legs and tapping into the open goal with the custodian stranded.
The win earned Kenkre FC their first full points of the I-League and the first time they ever scored three goals in a match.
Plaza brace secures Aizawl victory
Phase II of the Hero I-League was underway as Aizawl FC scraped past Real Kashmir FC, here at the Naihati Stadium. Willis Plaza gave Aizawl FC an early lead which was doubled before half time, courtesy of a Niraj Kumar own goal. Real Kashmir responded in the second half with two goals in three minutes from skipper Mason Robertson. The winning goal came in the 69th minute as Plaza bagged his second goal and Aizawl bagged all three points.
The game got off to a bright start for Aizawl after Willis Plaza scored in the second minute of the game. The Trinidian did well to get on the end of a cross from Vanlalnghenga, who had sprinted up the left flank for the attack. The ball was inch perfect and Plaza only had to cushion it off his side-foot into the back of the net.
Minutes later, Real Kashmir had an opportunity to restore parity when Mason Robertson was at the end of a cross from the right flank. The Real Kashmir skipper was completely unmarked but his shot lacked accuracy and power, and was comfortably collected by keeper Anuj Kumar.
Aizawl were on the attack again, this time down the right flank. A cross came in from Lalmalsawma and this time Dipanda Dicka managed to get his head on it but it was straight at the keeper. Robertson had another opportunity after brilliantly flicking the ball over Lalmalsawma but Anuj Kumar was at the end of a tame shot to collect it.
Ten minutes from the halfway point of the game, Samuel Kynshi brought Lalmalsawma down on the right wing. Skipper Samuel Lalmuanpuia played a deep, looping ball into the box that was headed back towards the face of goal by Ramhlunchhunga. Willis Plaza was the first to get his head onto it and the ball hit the underside of the crossbar, hit the feet of a confused Niraj Kumar and rolled into the net.
The constant pressure paid off as Aizawl dominated the first half and went into the break with a comfortable two-goal cushion. Real Kashmir tried to pull one back during the closing stages of the first half. Robertson, again, tried his luck from a free-kick, but Anuj Kumar was at full stretch to deny the him.
David Robertson was desperate to turn things around and decided to make three substitutions at half time. Malem Meitei, Bikramjit Singh and Rohmingthanga Bawlte came on to replace Ragav Gupta, Samuel Kynshi and Bernard Kouassi.
The momentum was still with Aizawl in the opening stages of the first half. However, two quick-fire goals from Real Kashmir changed the entire scenario of the game. Substitute Bikramjit Singh made his impact as he played a long ball towards the Aizawl box as Robertson beat a charging Anuj Kumar to reach the ball first and then slotted the ball into an empty net to open Real Kashmir’s account.
Two minutes later, Robertson struck his ninth goal in the I-League. This time Mason found himself facing the goal from a very acute angle. However, he put his boot through it and the ball flew over Anuj Kumar and into the roof of the net, restoring parity out of nowhere.
Aizawl did not take their foot off the gas and kept attacking the Real Kashmir box in an effort to retake the lead of the game. Ten minutes after the equaliser, the constant Aizawl attacking paid off as Lalremsanga put a beautiful cross into the box and an unmarked Willis Plaza headed it in to bag his second of the day and, more importantly, put his side ahead in the game again.
Frustration crept into the Real Kashmir side as they looked for an equaliser again. Towards the end of the game, a dangerous challenge from Rohmingthanga looked malicious but the substitute was lucky to dodge a yellow or even a red card for that tackle. At the end, Aizawl managed to cling on to their lead and left with all three points.
A win takes Aizawl FC to the top of the I-League Relegation Playoff table, two points above Real Kashmir FC in second place. Real Kashmir are now just one point ahead of TRAU, who have a game in hand.
TRAU play out frustrating draw with Indian Arrows
A cagey encounter between TRAU and Indian Arrows ended in a goalless draw, here at the Kalyani Stadium. The result means that TRAU and Arrows have now played a 0-0 draw against each other in both the phases of this season’s Hero I-League.
The game got off to a very cagey start with both sides testing the waters in the opening few minutes. Nearing the 10-minute mark, TRAU had a glorious opportunity to put their noses in front when Roger Khuman picked Salam Johnson Singh out with a superb long ball into the Arrows’ box. Singh’s initial effort was saved brilliantly by keeper Zahid Bukhari. The rebound fell to Singh again and the striker’s second attempt came off the upright as TRAU failed to capitalise on a golden opportunity.
A minute later, Douglas Veloso came close but ended up clattering with the keeper and conceding a foul. Md Fayazuddin and Roger Khuman were able to find Veloso at the end of their passes but on both the occasions, the Brazilian put it over the crossbar. Fernandinho also tried his luck from range but it was wayward.
Arrows were kept in their own half for majority of the time but did dare to trot forward midway through the first half. Arrows’ skipper Taison Singh stood over a free-kick on the right flank, on the edge of the box and whipped in a cross that was too deep and missed the heads of all players and went out for a goal kick. To add to their woes, Arrows also lost Leewan Castanha to an injury just before half-time.
The second half started off exactly the way the first half did. Neither of the keepers were really tested till the 51st minute when Parthib Gogoi forced Bishorjit Singh to make a save. Arrows launched another attack in quick succession, this time Vibin Mohanan could not keep his effort on target.
After dealing with consecutive attacks, TRAU played the ball forward. Salam Johnson Singh tried his luck from an acute angle but his effort was deflected out for a corner. Raj Basfore was defensively astute for Arrows, consistently dealing with TRAU attacks and long balls into the box.
Minutes past the hour mark, with options on either side, Brijesh Giri went for goal himself but his effort was palmed over the bar by Bishorjit Singh. Fayazuddin delivered another cross towards Douglas Veloso, at the other end, and the Brazilian failed to keep it on target again.
Substitute Premkumar Meitei almost put TRAU in the lead when he took the ball away from keeper Zahid Bukhari and took a shot at goal. His effort was heroically denied by Arrows’ substitute Abdul Hannan who got his head in the way and ensured that the ball went out for a corner.
Eight minutes from time, Fernandinho made a mazy run into the Arrows’ box but he was thwarted by the defence and the ball went out for a corner that resulted in nothing. Defences were on top and finishing was not up to par as the game ended in a goalless draw.
A point takes TRAU above Real Kashmir in the Relegation Playoff Table. Both sides are level on points, TRAU have a better goal difference. A point takes Indian Arrows above Sudeva Delhi. Again, both sides are level on points but Arrows have a better goal difference.