Pune FC stamped their superiority finishing with an all-win record after registering a close 3-2 win over Mumbai FC in their last Under-20 I-League Group-B (Mumbai) encounter at the Fr. Agnel ground, Navi Mumbai on Friday.
The game billed as the ‘Maha Derby’ and more about finishing on top of the 5-team group had Pune FC trail by a Chetan Tandel (33rd minute) goal at half time
Pune FC came back strongly in the second half to equalize through substitute Abung Meetei (65th minute), before David Lalbiakzara (74th minute) gave Pune FC the lead. Mumbai FC, then, leveled terms through Altamash Sayed (86th) before Pune FC’s William Lalnunfela (88th minute) struck the match-winner
Both teams had earlier qualified for the final phase to be played in West Bengal next month. Victory for Pune FC meant finishing with 12-points after completing their fourth win on the trot.
Pune FC effecting seven changes to the squad that played last seemed to lose the sting they possessed as they conceded a goal in the 33rd minute of play.
Changing ends, Pune FC decided to bring in regulars Abung Meetei (for Janak Kudmal) and Nikhil Kadam (for R Shivram) which made all the difference. Pune FC attacked at will and the experience both players carried helped add sting in the opponents half.
Five minutes past the hour, Pune FC forged ahead through the combined effort of the substitutes. Winning a throw in on the right, Riyan Yadgiri’s throw-in was met by Mumbai FC player who headed on to an unmarked Nikhil on the left flank. Nikhil’s cross, then, went off a Mumbai FC defender and rolled clear to Abung who ended placing it to the left of the goalkeeper.
Spurred by the goal, Pune FC attacked at will and nine minutes later took the lead. Nikhil from the right played a through pass to William who was positioned in the center of the field. William, in turn, managed to find David on the top of the penalty box and strike the ball home to the right corner.
However, Pune FC’s joy was shortlived with Mumbai FC’s Altamash Sayed netting in the 86th minute.
But just when the match seemed drift to a draw, Pune FC struck the winner. Once again it was Nikhil who architected the goal. Off a solo run on the right, Nihil weaved past four defenders to release a stiff try on goal, which was blocked by the custodian. However, the keeper could not check the deflection and William on hand did well to capatalise on the opportunity in a flash.
The win was creditable for Pune FC as they played out the last 15 minutes with 10 players after David was sent off for two bookings.