- RSS Feed
U20 I-League: Champions Pune FC sign off on all-win note, down Prayag Utd 3-1
Pune FC created history of sorts and emerged undisputed champions with an all-win record in the Under-20 I-League (Final Phase).
In their final encounter, Pune FC rallied from a goal down to down Prayag United SC 3-1 in a match of consequential interest but serious as the aim was to remain unconquered.
After completing their fifth win at Kalyani, Kolkata, Pune FC finished with 15 points. The victory was their ninth in a row and included four from the group stage.
Pune FC trailed by a Jagganath Oraon penalty (28th minute) going into the half time. But came back strongly, thanks to a double from William Lalnunfela (56th, 69th minute) and a ‘own goal’ by Prayag United in the (76th minute).
Prayag United with nothing to lose proved pushed Pune FC on the back-foot from the word go and went all out attack from the start. Dominating the midfield it was the sound Pune FC defense that kept them at bay.
In the first ten minutes of the game, Pune FC managed to get a couple of attacks on the opposition goal. Haokip, Nikhil Kadam and William combined well on the right, but William’s cross from the touchline went straight to the ‘keeper. On another occasion, James Singh played Nikhil through on the right. Nikhil’s run was brought to an abrupt end as he was dispossessed in the box.
A minute later skipper Suji Kumar, working well on the left, sent a cross in, but it was too high for Haokip to power a header.
Thereafter, Haokip combined well to open up Suji in the box on the left. Suji laid off for Gobin Singh, but the shot was blocked.
Pune FC attacked with pace as they shifted quickly via Lalrempuia from left to Nikhil on the right. His cross in was collected well by Suji in the box on the left, but rival defense stepped up with a clearance. Couple minutes later, Lalrempuia’s brilliantly released Nikhil behind the rival defense with a long ball, Nikhil’s shot going inches wide.
Just before the half-hour mark, Prayag were awarded with a penalty after Gobin brought down a Prayag attacker in the box. It seemed a fair challenge as Gobin had got the ball first. Jagganath Oraon stepped up and gave the Kolkata side the lead with a hard-low shot to ‘keeper Amrinder Singh’s left (0-1).
A minute after the restart, William earned a corner down the right. He combined with Nikhil for a short corner, but the former’s feeble shot went straight to the ‘keeper.
Pune FC went all out attack in search of the equalizer. Lalrempuia’s cross in from the right was just too long for Suji on the left. At the other end, Prayag launched their own attacks but some disappointing finishing let them down.
Couple minutes later, Pune FC were denied a penalty of their own when Nikhil was brought down in the box. Nikhil charged into the box, beating a defender, and was shoved down. But this time the referee waved play on. It looked more of a penalty than what Prayag got. But luck didn’t go Pune FC’s side.
Five minutes from the half time, Nikhil went on an attack up the right, fed the ball to Abung, whose dangerous cross was somehow parried clear. Moments later, Suji put the ball into the box form the left, but William couldn’t control quickly from close, and chance went begging.
As the half came to a close, Pune FC had two more chances. Haokip’s shot on the turn from outside the box was blocked, whereas Lalrempuia’s free kick from the top of the box went over.
Pune FC went into the break trailing by a goal.
As the second half kicked off, Pune FC went on the offensive mode from the very beginning. Two minutes into the half, James put the ball into the box, but Haokip was adjudged to have fouled the ‘keeper as he challenged the long ball.
Five minutes later, Pune FC had their best chance of the match. Nikhil pounced on a clearance down the right and was brought down just outside the box. He curled the resulting free kick into the danger area. Haokip controlled to get the ball down and have a shot, but blasted it over from six-yards out.
Ten minutes into the half and Pune FC found the equalizer through William Lalnunfela. Nikhil’s freekick deflected of the Prayag wall, and a very alert William pounced on it and calmly finished it with his second touch (1-1).
It was game-on as Pune FC pushed ahead for the lead. Karthik, on for Suji Kumar at the half time, put in a cross from the left looking for Haokip, but was too close to the ‘keeper. At the other end, Prayag went on a counter but Amrinder did well to collect the cross.
Pune FC continued charging in attack looking for the lead. Karthik cut in from the left, but blasted over an ambitious shot from 35 yards out. Prayag, playing mostly on counters, was kept at bay by the Pune FC backline.
Ten minutes after the hour mark, William doubled his tally to give Pune FC the lead. Lalrempuia brilliantly switched to Nikhil into the space on the right. He cut in and beat the defender to have a shot from inside the box. The block fell in his path again, but William pounced first to let rip into the goal – a poacher’s finish for the second time (2-1).
Into the final quarter of the match and Pune FC went 3-1 up, thanks to an own goal from a Prayag defender. Nikhil’s in-swinging corner had three Pune FC players go for the header and in the process the helpless Prayag defender headed his clearance into his own net.
William was at his best harassing the Prayag defenders at his will as Pune FC displayed their domination. Down and out, Prayag managed to get a free kick in a good position only for some bad finishing letting them down.
As the match closed out, Pune FC had one more chance. Ranjan Singh blasted a free kick goalwards, but the keeper parried it away following a foul earned by Nikhil outside the box.
Starting XI: Amrinder (GK), Ranjan, James, Kamardeep, Gobin (87′; Surjith), Sujie (C) (46′; Karthik), Lalrempuia, Abung, Nikhil, William, Haokip (66′; Deepak)
Unused Subs: Bhushan (GK), Anuj, Shivram, Janak
POINT STANDINGS – UNDER-20 I-LEAGUE 2011-12
|Shillong Lajong FC||5||2||1||2||6||8||7||-2|
|Prayag Utd. Sc||5||-||2||3||4||9||2||-5|