BPCL stutter to victory

BPCL stutter to victory

The scoreline may suggest a fairly convincing win for BPCL but the defending champions had to literally sweat it out to pocket full points at the KSHA stadium. The Ajay Saroha-led squad, who were made to suffocate for the better part of the first half by a dogged Fortis unit, eventually found the tricks to escape unscathed.

Fortis took a shocking led in the fifth minute through Damandeep Singh. BPCl were made to work hard for their equaliser before Gurpreet Singh broke Fortis’ stubbornness after converting a penalty corner in the 25th minute.

A minute into the second half, Amar Aiyappa and then in the 62nd minute Sher Singh struck from lightening quick attacks to power their side back to the top of the table with 12 points from four matches along with IOCL. Air India, who beat MLI 5-1 in the other match, lie second with nine points from three matches.

Fortis have improved a lot under the stewardship of former India goalkeeper Ashish Ballal and it was visible in their whole hearted display, albeit for a losing cause. Largely an assortment of talented players from Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), the youthful Fortis stuck sincerely to their coach’s plans, taking BPCL completely by surprise in the first half.

Playing with just one free striker, Fortis packed their midfield and defence, hardly allowing any space for BPCL to operate down the centre. Finding it increasingly difficult to penetrate, BPCL were forced to attack from the flanks, giving Fortis enough time to thwart any goal-bound attempts from the 25-yard line itself. Fortis were happy with the counter attacks and in one such foray Damandeep gave them the lead before Gurpreet levelled the scores.

However, an experienced BPCL countered their rivals brilliantly with a smart second-half display. After finding the lead through Aiyamma, BPCL kept drawing their opponents towards them, creating the space they wanted. Fortis, who went all out for the equaliser, allowed Sher Singh to slot home the third goal for BPCL.

Results: Air India: 5 (Sameer Dad 6th, Len Aiyappa 33rd, 53rd, 63rd, Shivender Singh 44th) bt MLI: 1 (Sunil Kumar 60th); BPCL: 3 (Gurpreet Singh 25th PC, Amar Aiyamma 36th, Sher Singh 62nd) bt Fortis: 1 (Damandeep Singh 5th).