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Pune FC opened their campaign in the I-League 20-11-12 with a fighting goalless draw against Shillong Lajong FC in a Round-1 home game.
For Pune FC the result meant ending their third league opener in a draw and likewise falling short once again to gain full points from their north-east neighbors after six meetings.
Apart from the result, the match also turned out to be Pune FC midfielder Arata Izumi’s 50th I-League game for Pune FC.
Crippled by injuries to their key players, both teams turned the evening into an entertainer creating scoring chances aplenty but were far from ending up in the net.
Pune FC distinctly had an upper hand with the chances they created and went close on several occasions, SLFC in the bargain did well but could not break down the host’s defence and all their attempts were from long which Pune FC sprightly shot-stopper Shahinlal Meloly stood tall. His effort earned him the Man-of-The-Match, and for the second consecutive occasion won fans Punekars hearts.
Pune FC began proceedings with Lajong pushing through Boithang Haokip and striker John Menyongar doing well with a try each. Pune FC settled thereafter and created the first close chance of the match. In the 15th minute Douhou Pierre, finding himself with the ball after skipper Shanmugam Venkatesh whipped in a low cross from the left, could not keep his outstretched connection within the framework from 8-yards.
With mid-field territorial advantage shared, Lajong kept the Pune FC defence alert. A Subhas Singh glancing header wide, then Menyongar got into the clear inside the box owing to defender Chika Wali’s lapse turned into anxious moments.
Pune FC pushed hard with Venkatesh working hard and so did Douhou, who with his good form carried the ball deep and worked in setting up his strike-partner Jeje Lalpekhlua several chances.
Venkatesh, meanwhile, had the first attempt on goal lobbing into the rival keeper Poirei’s hands in the 25th minute.
(Skipper Shanmugam Venkatesh all set to cross)
The half was marred with several injuries. Lajong’s dashing play took a toll when Lalramluaha accidently bumped into the hardworking Arata and ended up injuring his forehead. It was during this period of constant stoppages that Pune FC’s Baldeep Singh picked up the first booking of the match and later Othallo Tabia for a tackle that went against him.
With the half time score scoreless, Pune FC resumed the second session going on the attack. Douhou worked well with Jeje, but on several occasions fell short.
The creative Douhou many a times went on long solo runs and commanded play. On one occasion, he set off on his own on the left wing, cut past two defenders and squared the ball to the far side for a fast approaching Lester Fernandez. The nippy Lester, controlled got the better of an advancing, but his weak drive was cleared on the line. The miss overall was Pune FC’s second, which could have sealed the match.
At the other end Lajong pushed forward but were constantly thwarted by the Pune FC defence, with Gurjinder Kumar sliding to keep out any advances, Chika blocking well and more so ‘keeper Shahinlal Meloly timing his charge when he confidently ventured deep out.
Shahinlal, first cut short John’s run on the edge of the box, then flung himself to his left to keep out a Eugeneson Lyngdoh try from 25-yards to wow the spectators. His brilliance did have one moment of anxiety when he advanced and blocked Gbilee run to a through ball on the left near the edge of the box, which in turn rebounded to allowing Subhash Singh capatalise before trying wide at the far post.
Douhou had a well struck receive and turn left footed grounder to the far post, Lester supplied a good cross only to have it go abegging before Baldeep Singh let go from long.
As the match went on with Pune FC pressing more than before, the only close moment came when substitute Subash Singh (on for Jeje) did well to lob past two defenders after Douhou set him up, go forward but end up having his left footed half volley go wide from inside the box.
Saturday, 22nd Oct 2011 18:30
I-League Round 1
Referee : MB Santosh Kumar
Shahinlal, Othallo, Costa, Chika, Gurjinder, Venkatesh, Baldeep, Arata (92’, Srikanth), Lester, Jeje (88’, Subash), Douhou————————————————-Shillong Lajong FC:
Poirei, Passah, Z. Ralte, M Subhash, Lallchhuanmawia, Lalramluaha, Lalhlimthara (78′ Lallawmzuala), Boithang (Christopher), Eugenson, John, Gbilee (Tuboi).
Man Of The Match: Shahinlal Meloly (Pune FC)
Peninsula Player of The Match: Douhou Pierre
Baldeep Singh (Yellow), Othallo Tabia (Yellow)