Pune FC go down fighting 0-2 to Salgaocar FC
Pune FC went down fighting 0-2 to Salgaocar FC in an Under-19 I-League Final Phase Round-2 clash the DSK Football Field in Loni on Tuesday.
A first half brace from Salgaocar FC striker Naro Hari Shreshta (3rd & 41st minute) handed Pune FC their first loss in the final phase.
The loss also meant Pune FC (3 pts) dropped down to third place in the standings behind AIFF Elite Academy (6 pts) who logged a win over hosts DSK Shivajians earlier in the day and Salgaocar (3 pts).
Going into the game Coach Naushad Moosa fielded the same starting eleven, with Jesmon Soares and Farukh Choudhary coming in on the bench.
After a slow start, Pune FC were handed an early blow when Salgaocar took the lead in the 3rd minute. After Tarif Akhand fouled an opponent outside the box on the left, the curling freekick inside the box was slotted home by Shreshta from close range.
Pune FC finally settled in and created a chance four minutes later. A floated corner into the box found an unmarked Asheer Akhtar inside the box. The defender controlled the second ball and hammered a low drive which was blocked by the defense.
Thereafter Pune FC dominated proceedings and created a host of chances. First it was a long range attempt from Altamash which went just wide in the 17th minute, then and Asheer Akhtar whose powerful low drive was saved by the keeper.
With the game turning into an end-to-end affair, both sides attacked the rival goal at regular intervals.
As Pune FC put men upfront in search of the equaliser, a defensive error at the back gifted Salgaocar another goal in the 41st minute. Defender Tarif Akhand lost his footing while trying to clear and Shreshta capitalised slotting home from inside the box to give Salgaocar a 2-0 lead.
Pune FC tried to push up in the final few minutes of the first half, but the Salgaocar backline managed to hold off the flurry of attacks keeping the score 2-0 going into the breather.
Coach Moosa then brought in Md. Yasir in place of Arif Shaikh at the start of the second half to add firepower upfront.
Having put continuous pressure, Pune FC almost pulled one back in the 52nd minute. After Asheer was fouled on the right flank, Dimple Bhagat curled in a low attempt at the first post which was somehow saved by the Salgaocar custodian.
Pune FC kept on pushing ahead and once again went agonisingly close in the 61st minute only to be denied by the woodwork. Substitute Yasir with a brilliant solo run skipped past three defenders, before finding Sannik Murmu down the middle who in turn laid off for Ashique on the right flank. The lanky playmaker controlled and curled in a crisp attempt that came off the crossbar.
Despite putting men up, Pune FC found it difficult to break down the Salgaocar defense who parked the bus defending with all ten men.
Into the final ten minutes, Dimple went close but his powerful attempt on the turn from the left sailed inches over the horizontal.
Pune FC didn’t give up and attacked the rival goal continuously but Salgaocar opted to slow down the game with some time wasting tactics and managed to hold on for a 2-0 win.
Pune FC: Sukhadev (GK), Dimple, Asheer, Ashique, Sanchayan, Arif (46′; Yasir), Altamash (C), Chesterpaul (90+1′; Akshay), Myron, Sannik (74′; Farukh), Tarif
Unused Subs: Tanmay (GK), Balkar, Jesmon, Prakash