Bhawanipore FC registered a 2-1 win over Garhwal FC in the I-League Qualifiers as the latter dropped out of the race.
In the other match, ARA FC and Bengaluru United played out a draw – a result that did not help both teams.
Adjah and Moula score again in Bhawanipore win
Bhawanipore FC remain on course to qualify for the I-League after a 2-1 win over Garhwal FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Stadium in Kolkata.
The goalscorers from the opening match, Philip Adjah and Pankaj Moula, hit the mark again as the Kolkata team withstood a late fightback from Garhwal FC.
Having picked up three points in its opening game, Bhawanipore FC had a bright start when a lofted pass by Arijit Bagui put Philip Adjah through on goal. The Ghanaian beat the offside trap and slotted the ball past Sayak Barai. 1-0 in the eighth minute.
Having suffered back-to-back defeats, Garhwal FC responded swiftly. In the 16th minute, Afdal Varikkodan brought the best out of Shilton Paul, the Bhawanipore goalkeeper. Varikkodan was subbed in to replace the injured Nigerian striker Victor Philip.
In the next minute, Rahul Das failed to capitalize when Shilton Paul’s save from a free-kick fell towards him. However, the Garhwal defender’s header was not well-placed.
After the break, Bhawanipore doubled their advantage within five minutes. Anup Raj’s cross from the left found an unmarked Pankaj Moula who headed in his second goal of the tournament.
Garhwal FC ended their goalless streak in the tournament in the 76th minute. Rahul Das reacted swiftly to a poor clearance and pulled the ball back for Varikkodan to tap in from close range.
Bhawanipore could have put the game to rest in the 85th minute when Murmu’s through ball found Adjah. The Ghanaian shot the ball over the bar.
The Kolkata team held on to the lead to grab three points and take the tally to six points from two games while Garhwal FC is out of the qualification race.
H-ARA-kiri as Bengaluru United steal a point
A 1-1 draw did little to favour FC Bengaluru United and ARA FC in their bid to qualify for the I-League at the Kalyani Stadium, Kolkata.
Both teams had lost their previous encounters and had to score three points to keep their qualification hopes alive. Bengaluru United controlled the proceedings from the start with a lion’s share of the possession.
After absorbing the pressure, ARA FC went ahead in the 36th minute. The goal was a result of a good move. Karthik Swamy received the ball in the midfield and his pass found Sreekuttan on the right. The forwards made a good run at the Bengaluru defence before passing the ball back to Karthik Swamy at the edge of the box. The midfielder’s first time shot was blocked by the Bengaluru defence but the ball rolled into the path of Pratik Swami. The forward’s first touch left Amey Ranawade for dead. The shot at goal deflected off the boots of Ranawade leaving Kunzang Bhutia with little chance to react.
1-0 to the team from Gujarat.
The second half saw BUFC pile on the pressure, but the ARA defence held on. William Opoku’s shot hit the side netting in the 53rd minute.
With 30 seconds left in added time, ARA FC shot themselves in the foot. Opoku’s lofted pass found Jaison Vaz one-on-one against Melroy Fernandes. The ARA FC goalkeeper clattered into the Bengaluru forward.
The referee had little option, but to point to the spot. Mohd. Asrar Rehber stepped up to the spot and sent Fernandes the wrong way. 1-1.
The last kick of the game salvaged a point for Bengaluru who went third with four points from three matches. ARA FC are on one point from two matches.
Bhawanipore- Mohammedan to go head-to-head for top spot
The next round of matches features the two Kolkata teams slug it out for the top spot as Bhawanipore FC face Mohammedan SC at the Kalyani Stadium.
The winner of the match could effectively decide the winner of the I-League Qualifiers. Mohammedan are the favorites, but their recent off-field problems could provide Bhawanipore a window of opportunity.
In the other match, Garhwal FC will hope to end the tournament on a high, while ARA FC will aim to keep their slim qualifying hopes alive.
The matches will be held on Friday, October 16.
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