Pune FC sign off home campaign with win over Salgaocar SC, move into second place
Pune FC signed off their I-League home campaign with a convincing 2-0 win over defending champions Salgaocar SC.
The victory was propelled by a goal in either half by their strikers Mandjou Keita (27th minute) and Subash Singh (86th minute). The win helped Pune FC (46 points) move into second place (provisional) after completing their Round-25 engagement.
The victory was Pune FC’s thirteenth of the season and also the second win over Salgaocar SC in this season’s league. In the first leg at Goa, Pune FC won 3-1.
Pune FC went into the game making four changes to their line-up; custodian Shahinlal Meloly and defender Kamaljeet Kumar taking the place of the suspended Subrata Paul and Gurjinder Kumar. While in the midfield, Paresh Shivalkar and Ganeshan Dhanapal came in place of Shanmugam Venkatesh and Karma Tsewang.
The home side did the early running and it was Ganeshan’s long ball to Subash Singh deep into the box that had an alert defender Rahul Kumar checked the run with a clearance in time.
At the other end, Gilbert Olivera tested Shahinlal with a long ranger, which turned out to be a regulation collection.
With the game into the 11th minute, Pune FC almost forged ahead. Striker Subash Singh gaining on a Paresh Shivalkar header following a Lester Fernandez cross from right missed from inside the penalty box.
Seven minutes later Pune FC’s created their best chance. A brilliant move initiated by medio Douhou Pierre had Subash running in the clear on the left. The striker did well to cross into the box leaving Lester and defender Biswajit Saha an equal chance inside the box. The Goan defender in his bid to clear missed allowing Lester square the ball to an unmarked Keita, who miscued his try.
Done in by poor finishes, Pune FC took the lead in the 27th minute through a penalty-kick conversion by striker Keita who placed it to the right of goalkeeper Karanjit Singh. In fact, Keita was trifle lucky in his conversion as the custodian read Keita’s attempt by diving to his right, but remained short of a block after getting his forearm to the ball.
The penalty came after Paresh did well to cross over from the left for Keita to head goalward, which landed on the hand of defender Nicolav Colaco.
With the game confined to the midfield there was no further change in the scoreline.
Changing ends, Pune FC found themselves at the receiving end, with the Goans attacking at will to keep ‘keeper Shahinlal busy.
Gilbert Olivera was first to have a go, which Shahin did well to punch out. Two minutes later striker Ishfaq Ahmed moving on a solo was cut short by defenders Anas Edathodika and Chika Wali a yard on top of the box leading to a penalty kick. With referee MD Kamil thinking otherwise, the penalty was awarded after the Goans protested to the linesman.
Off the resultant, Rahul Kumar who stepped up for the kick had Shahinlal fling his body to the right and block the attempt. Shahinlal’s efforts was rewarded as he was adjudged Man Of The Match to thus cap off a successful return to the playing eleven after his run was cut short die to injury.
Pune FC, thereafter, went through a series of close moments. The closest was when Shahinlal, Srikanth and substitute Shanmugam Venkatesh (on for Ganeshan) combined to keep the ball ouit off an ensuing melee.
Having survived close calls, Pune FC took time to control and in the 86th minute swelled their tally through striker Subash. Medio Douhou split the defence with a neat pass to Subash who ran in from the right, controlled to keep a defender at bay to gently duff the ball over the Salgaocar ‘keeper.
In injury time, Keita had one last go on the Goans goal however custodian Karanjit effected a great block.
This was third consecutive time in the I-League that Pune FC ended their Home campaign on a win.