HASC end campaign with a win
Stephen helps relegated SAI hold BEL; ‘C’ Division from Wednesday
A slice of luck helped Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club end their rather disappointing Super Division campaign on a good note with a 1-0 victory over CIL at the Bangalore football stadium here on Sunday.
Sanath Kumar scored the winner for HASC in the 36th minute in the last match of the league as the defending champions finished third with 21 points from eleven matches.
MEG took the title with 29 points while ASC ended runners-up, for the first time, with 25 points. ISRO, Dharmaraja Union, SAI and RWF were relegated to the ‘A’ Division.
In the final match, a sparse crowd witnessed HASC play superior football, bossing possession and pinning the CIL team back throughout the match. But for all their dominance, the Aircraftmen were unable to create many clear-cut chances, satisfying themselves with some long-range efforts particularly from the North-east duo of Malemngamba Meitei and James Singh.
The only goal came through a mistake from goalkeeper N Venkatesh, who otherwise had an outstandng game. Venkatesh missed the flight of the ball off James’s corner from the right and the ball struck Sanath’s knee before looping into the back of the net.
After the goal, HASC continued to dominate with CIL, who had secured their place in the league, hardly threatening to equalise. James, easily the best player on the pitch, nearly doubled the lead when his 30-yard free-kick struck the post in the final minute of the first half.
A majority of the second half was expectedly played at walking pace with HASC failing to add to their lead, thanks mainly to some smart saves from Venkatesh. The Aircraftmen will now look to put the disappointing campaign behind them and bolster their side ahead of the I-League season set to start in October.
In the earlier match, BEL and SAI played out a 1-1 draw. Vikram opened the scoring for BEL in the 20th minute before Stephen Raj salvaged some pride for relegated SAI by scoring the equaliser twenty minutes from time.
The ‘C’ Division tournament will start on Wednesday with all matches in the 40-team league being played at the Bangalore Football stadium.