Pune FC held to a 1-1 draw by Bharat FC in first-ever Pune Derby
Pune FC were held to a 1-1 draw by Bharat FC in the first-ever Pune Derby at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi on Saturday.
The I-League Round-14 encounter lived up to expectations as the majority Pune FC fans were entertained throughout the 90-minutes with some end to end action.
Midfielder Lalrempuia Fanai gave Pune FC the perfect start with a goal in the 4th minute before striker Kris Bright pulled Bharat FC level in the 31st minute.
Both sides also played the last few minutes with ten-men after Bharat FC’s Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Pune FC’s Dhanpal Ganesh were sent off by referee A. Rowan.
The draw was Pune FC’s fifth of the campaign and took their tally to 17 points as they stay in the fourth place still unbeaten at home. Meanwhile, Bharat FC too stayed in 8th place with 11 points.
Going into the game, Pune FC Coach Karim Bencherifa made five changes handing starts to Thongkhosiem Haokip, Darko Nikac, Ryuji Sueoka, Lalrempuia Fanai and Amrinder Singh.
The derby began in an interesting fashion when Pune FC went on the offensive right from the opening minute of the game. While Bharat FC were unable to counter Pune FC’s blistering pace, they did manage to hold back the resistance successfully and attack on the counter.
However that was short lasted. A breakaway move in the 4th minute saw Sueoka take the ball and make a run with it down the middle. He in turn passed it to Lalrempuia clear on the left and youngster made no mistake in slotting the ball in past the Bharat FC custodian Arindam Bhattacharya with a first-time effort for his first-ever I-League goal.
The pace of the game didn’t slow down after the goal as both sides kept on pushing forward. A few challenges too flew in and in the 8th minute Mathew Gonsalves was shown a yellow card for a hard tackle on Syed Rahim Nabi.
Post that the visitors had a brief spell where they tried to make inroads into the Pune FC defence to no avail. Ten minutes later in the 18th minute a nasty tackle saw Edgar Marcelino go down which in turn saw the first substitution of the game. Lalramluaha Hmar came in for the injured Edgar and the pace of the game got a shot in the arm.
While Pune FC attacked repeatedly down the flanks and the centre thereafter, Bharat FC were content to attacking on the counter. Thongkhosiem Haokip made some brilliant runs down the centre only to be denied by the Bharat FC defence. On the other hand attacks from Bharat FC’s forward line were thwarted by Pune FC’s defensive duo of Anas Edathodika and Luciano Sabrosa.
While dominating the proceedings, a defensive lapse from Pune FC allowed the visitors back into the game around the half hour mark. Having failed to clear the ball on the left side, Lester Fernandez crossed in for a waiting Kris Bright, whose powerful header beat Amrinder Singh and saw Bharat FC go level in the 31st minute.
Either side had a couple of chances in the final few minutes of the half but the half ended 1-1.
The second half began right from where the two teams left in the first. Pune FC continued to dominate attacks for a brief period of the opening minutes of the second half. However, the guests too settled in and had a few close chances.
In the 54th minute a shot by Romuald Boco saw the ball whiz just wide past of Amrinder. Three minutes later Haokip almost pulled off a stunning goal when he controlled the ball just outside the box on the left but the final shot was just inches away from the far post.
Thereafter, once again both sides traded punches on the opposite defences. If Bright’s 61st minute effort went just wide off the goal for Bharat FC then Pune FC’s attempts through Sueoka, Haokip, Darko and Lalramluaha were thwarted by the Bharat FC custodian.
Pune FC nearly came close once again to scoring the elusive second goal in the 72nd minute, when Sueoka fed a ball down the right to Lalramluaha who had a clear run with only the Bharat FC custodian to beat. But he was unable to do so with the onrushing Arindam blocking the attempt.
Like all derbies which begin slowly, the lengthening shadows of the game and the clock ticking down gives rise to flaring of tempers on the field. And that is what happened in the 81st minute. Mehrajuddin Wadoo bought down Raju Yumnam down the left and was given a yellow card and four minutes later he was shown a second yellow and a subsequent red card for once again bringing down substitute Nikhil Kadam.
While it looked like Pune FC would play the man advantage, the 88th minute saw the referee show Dhanpal Ganesh a straight red after an off the ball challenge. The move was booed by the majority Pune FC fans who deemed the decision a little harsh.
Despite that, Nikhil combined with Darko a minute later for a close chance but fell short with the final finish.
Three minutes of injury time followed where Pune FC desperately hunted for the goal but were unable to breach the rival goal as the first ever Pune Derby ended one-goal-a-piece.
Pune FC: Amrinder (GK), Luciano, Mathew (64’; Ralte), Raju, Anas (C), Lalrempuia, Ganesh, Edgar (19’; Lalramluaha), Darko, Haokip, Sueoka (78’; Nikhil)
Unused Subs: Arup (GK), Mumtaz, Prakash, Srikanth
Bharat FC: Arindam (GK), Ravanan, Omar, Gourmangi (C) Wadoo, Nabi, Boco, Hassell, Lester (88’; Lester), Rajinder (56’; Surajit), Bright
Unused Subs: Meher (GK), Steven, Kottayil, Singam, Manjit
PFC – Mathew Gonsalves 8’
KBFC – Mehrajuddin Wadoo 83’, 85’
PFC – Dhanpal Ganesh 88’