I-LEAGUE 14th ROUND : Pune FC seal win at death against USFC, move a top standings

05.01.2013.2012 : KFC. | www.kolkatafootball.com HOME PAGE

05.01.2013: UNITED SIKKIM   1-2   PUNE FC (SIKKIM -FT)
PFC: Arata 24', Moga 90'+2'
USFC: Anas(og) 63'
USFC: Yoon, Abhishek, Jhingan, Anwar, Munmun, Safar, Michael(Sahenshah 81'), Nima(Budhiram 76'), Salau, Linekar, Nadong
PFC: Abhra, Srikanth, Anas, Chika, Gurjinder, Karma, Mumtaz, Arata, Douhou, Subash(Jeje 57'(Paite 63'), Moga 90+2'
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Pune FC finished their north-east mission in the I-League this season with back-to-back victories. As a result, Pune FC moved further up in the league standings. A last gasp injury time goal by James Moga enabled Pune FC complete a 2-1 win over United Sikkim FC in Round 14 at the Paljor Stadium, Gangtok on Saturday.

Medio Arata Izumi (23rd minute) gave Pune FC the lead, before a melee inside the penalty-box led to USFC profit from an own-goal in the 63rd minute. The victory took Pune FC to the top of the league table level on points with Churchill Brothers with a tally of 28 each. However, on head-to-head, Pune FC occupies 2nd position.

Pune FC thus avenged the 2-2 draw played in the first-leg home game in Pune. The win stretched Pune FC's unbeaten run to eight, while the win was sixth in away games and 9th in the league. Coach Derrick Pereira made two changes to the starting lineup. Subash Singh and Srikanth Ramu replaced Jeje Lalpekhlua and Othallo Tabia in the starting XI.

The hosts began on a dominant note keeping Pune FC 'keeper Abhra Mondal alert which including an early inroad by Nadong Bhutia who ran to in to a through ball. Pune FC took away the pressure when Arata pulled his shot just wide of the goal from the left. Later a well-knit move had skipper Douhou Pierre set up Karma Tsewang on the flank. Karma's first touch let him down as it took the ball just too far.

Minutes later, Pune FC earned back-to-back corners. Subash Singh's header off the first was cleared and from the resulting corner, Karma blasted his attempt over. Both sides had a fair bit of exchanges with the host's ending up shot to long balls played, unlike Pune FC who ventured deep. Pune FC, however had the upper hand and had two good opportunities. Defender Chika Wali's header off a corner went over followed by a clearance of another header by USFC defense.

Midway through the first half, medio Arata put Pune FC into the lead with brilliant anticipation and an equally good finish. With Karma pushing the ball to Douhou on the right, the skipper did well to release the ball just when Arata made a run behind the defender. Once in the clear, Arata met the ball well to slot past USFC 'keeper Yoon Tae.

At the other end, Nima Tamang beat Chika to send in a cross for Nirudeen Salau. The striker's tame shot was saved with ease by Abhra. Minutes later, Abhra flapped a delivery into the box. The ball remained stray as USFC's attacker went for a shot from range only to be denied by Srikanth Ramu's timely block.

The hosts had begun to dominate possession as they worked hard for the equaliser. Around the half-hour mark, Salau shot wide from a narrow angle on a counter. Four minutes later, Srikanth cleared USFC skipper Anwar Ali's header. Both teams thereafter engaged in a midfield battle with the hosts having Nadong to blame for sliding his attempt over, while Pune FC had Chika get booked for his challenge.

The second half began as the first ended with tackles flying around. Three minutes from the restart, defender Anas Edathodika went down after an aerial duel. However the referee waived play on; only for Pune FC to eventually clear out the ensuing corner kick. Three minutes later, Subash got himself in a great position with a turn. His shot from top of the box ended getting blocked.

Around the hour mark, Coach Derrick Pereira brought in striker Jeje Lalpekhlua to replace Subash upfront. At the other end, USFC probed with long balls into the Pune FC box.

Luck provided the hosts with the equaliser three minutes after the hour-mark. Losing the ball in the midfield, Nima Tamang was the recipient on right. Outpacing Pune FC's wing back Gurjinder Kumar, Tamang sent in a stiff cross a yard ahead off the touchline. The retrieving Anas in his bid to clear, found the ball rebound off Abhra and onto Gurjinder and past the goalline.

Pune FC then brought in Khanthang Paite just before resumption to replace Jeje. In the next five minutes, striker Moga, playing the lone man upfront, created a couple of close chances. First, his bicycle kick was saved by USFC 'keeper Yoon Tae which was followed by another long-range effort to be blocked by the 'keeper. Substitute Paite too got into the act and had a shot from the top of the box saved by the 'keeper.

At the other end, USFC dangerously moved up the right after breaking down Pune FC's possession. Abhra and the backline were alert to clear the danger. Into the final ten minutes, the search for the winner intensified. After some half chances, Pune FC finally scored the match-winner deep into added time.

Medio Arata, on the left won a freekick, three minutes into added time. Off the free-kick, skipper Douhou sent a brilliant low delivery aimed at the first post that swung. Moga attacked the delivery and did well to flick into the far corner to seal the game for Pune FC.

I-LEAGUE 14th ROUND : ONGC's winning streak at the Ambedkar stadium

05.01.2013.2012 : KFC. | www.kolkatafootball.com HOME PAGE

05.01.2013: ONGC FC   3-0   PAILAN ARROWS (DELHI - FT)
ONGC: Pritam Kotal(og) 6', Eric 30', Fanai 67'
MOM : Sachin Gawas (ONGC)

ONGC: Rehnesh, Odeola, Waheed, Yusa, Sandip, Sachin, Jatin, Joel, Fanai, Eric, Kunal(David 65')
PA: Sayan, Souvik, Pritam, Rajinder(Tirthankar 60'), Vishal, Milan, Prabir(Shyju 46'), Dhanpal, Narayan, Holicharan, Alwyn.

continues. They avenged their 1-4 defeat against Pailan Arrows over a month ago at Kolkata with a convincing 3-0 win against the same opponents. Coach Santosh Kashyap has transformed ONGC and made them a compact in defence and quick in the counter attack. It is his third match as ONGC coach and they have secured seven points from these three matches. ONGC is now on 13 points from 13 matches.

Pailan Arrows suffered their fourth successive defeat and remain stuck on 14 points. Their coach Arthur Papas said his defence should have been more alert against set-pieces and that the hard playing surface prevented his side from playing their quick passing, possession football.

He also felt that a key player like Allwyn George should learn how to find space as otherwise he gets closely marked for most of the match. George showed his class in the 35th minute, trapping a long clearance on his instep and pivoting and giving a defence splitting through pass but striker Holicharan Nazary angled wide.

ONGC made a whirlwind start and forged ahead in the 6th minute. They got three successive corner kicks. Yusa Katsumi's curling corner kick created confusion amongst the Pailan Arrows defenders and trickled in off right back Pritam Kotal's foot. Piling on the pressure ONGC went further ahead at the half hour mark. Overlapping right back and Man of the match Sachin Gawas sent a measured cross which striker Eric Brown headed in forcefully.

In the 66th minute ONGC went further ahead. Left Joel Sequeira's perfect cross was trapped by Brown who flicked to unmarked striker F. Lalmuanpuia who shot goalwards. his first shot was blocked. Lalmuanpuia capitalised on the rebound and scored with a crisp shot.

Brown got the red card two minutes later for retaliation after he was fouled by Pailan Arrows right back Kotal. Coach Kashyap accepted that it was a silly foul and that he was trying to make his players avoid rash tackles. Eric Brown will now miss the crucial tie against east Bengal on Tuesday January 8.

ONGC's manager Bibek Bhowmick deserves credit for trying to revamp the team. Bringing in coach Santosh Kashyap has made the team more compact. Since Kashyap took over ONGC has won two and drawn one match. Newly recruited stopper back S. Wahid from Kerala also impressed in his first outing for ONGC keeping Arrows's lethal striker Nazary in check.