Xavier the lone bright spot in drab stalemate

Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club played out a goalless draw with JCT in the round XIV match which was almost completely devoid of goalmouth action, leaving the Aircraftmen in tenth place with 15 points. JCT lie a point behind in eleventh.
“We were not good today,” admitted HASC manager M Muralidharan. “We are very disappointed with our performance. We badly wanted a win, but unfortunately it just did not happen.”

Xavier, who scored the winner in their victory over JCT in the first round, put in a robust performance and looked like the only person who might carve open a chance. The veteran forward kept finding space and played in decent passes throughout the match, but some poor finishing from his strike partner RC Prakash and some good defending kept the score at 0-0.

HASC’s only clear-cut chance of the match came six minutes into the second half. Xavier was again at the heart of the attack, playing a nice pass from the right to the path of the oncoming Malemnganba Meitei, whose first-time goalward shot was nicely saved by the JCT goalkeeper Naveen Kumar.

JCT, on the other hand, were finding it hard to create any chance at all, with the long throws taken by captain Daljit Singh looking the likeliest route to a goal.
“What one must understand is that, the pitch today was extremely difficult. It was almost impossible to play on it,” Sukhwinder Singh, coach of the Punjab side, said. “To create a goalscoring chance, it is vital to have that good final ball. But in such conditions it is just not possible. We threatened a couple of times, but because of the condition of the ground, the ball got away from my players and the chances went with it,” he added.

“At at the end of the day, we are reasonably satisfied with the point as it means we stay within touching distance of HASC. A win for them would have, perhaps, put us too far behind. So looking from that point of view, a draw is not such a bad result.”
HASC will next face Mohun Bagan on February 20. Meanwhile, HASC captain J Murali and forward RC Prakash along with JCT captain Daljit Singh and Badru Keke Ibrahim were randomly picked up for dope tests.

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