Leaders Pune FC log fourth successive home win; down Steadfast Academy 2-0
Leaders Pune FC maintained their impressive home record with a dominant 2-0 win over Steadfast Academy in an U15 Youth League, Maharashtra Zone, Round-7 encounter at the Pune FC Training Pitches in Mamurdi on Sunday.
Second half strikes from substitute Gulam Ansari (56th minute) and midfielder Cladeo Nongpluh (76th) handed Pune FC their sixth win of the campaign and fourth-in-a-row at home.
The three points earned also meant Pune FC strengthened their position at the top of the standings with 19 points and three games to go.
Going into the game, Coach Mohan Dass made three changes to the line-up handing starts to Cladeo, Aakash Banerjee and Deepak Saravanan.
The home side began the game in attacking mode and pushed ahead from either flank. With Steadfast defending deep, Pune FC had to work hard around the rival box to find that decisive opening. The frontline of Cladeo, Aakash and Ishan Dey managed to break the defensive line of Steadfast but were falling short in the final third.
As Pune FC pushed up, defender Aryan Thite almost gave them the lead in the 26th minute. The right-back twisted and turned around a couple of defenders on the flank before losing the ball as he got into the box. However, Aryan raced back to pick up the stray ball before cutting inside and firing a dangerous shot from range which went inches over the horizontal.
Into the final minutes of the half, winger Shreepad Dorge went close when he fired one from range but the rival keeper managed to collect it as the half ended goalless.
Having failed to capitalise on their chances before the breather, Pune FC came out in the second half with the intent to score early and almost got one when left-back Saurabh Salape’s long ranger beat the keeper only to come off the crossbar.
Eleven minutes in, Pune FC’s pressure paid off as they took a well-deserved lead. Cladeo with a neat through ball sent Shreepad clear on the left. The winger chased down the ball and crossed it back from the byline to find substitute Gulam, in for Aakash, clear in the box to head home from close.
The home side continued to push up ahead and five minutes later, had a great chance to double their lead. Ishan sent Aryan Thite clear on the right with a neat ball but the defender blasted his attempt over from close range.
In the 75th minute, Pune FC finally doubled their lead after some individual piece of brilliance from playmaker Cladeo. The youngster chased down Saurabh’s ball on the left, dispossessed a defender and beat another before firing low at the first post.
In the final quarter, Pune FC continued to dominate proceedings, but the visitors held on as the game ended 2-0.
Pune FC: Deepak (GK), Aryan T (87’; Chaitanyaa), Raoul, Sachin (C), Saurabh, Siddhant, Ishan, Aryan I (72’; Adarsh), Shreepad, Cladeo, Aakash (31’; Gulam)
Unused Subs: Shahad (GK), Gulab, Piyush, Amey
Yellow Card: Saurabh 59’