HASC go down fighting

Football I-League:Antchouet hands Churchill a 1-0 win in thrilling encounter

Heady battle: Churchill’s Henry Antchouet (left) heads the ball past HASC ’keeper P Pramod (right) during their I-League match at the Bangalore Football stadium on Sunday. DH PHOTO/ Kishor Kumar Bolar

Xavier Vijay Kumar, returning to the club he called home for over a decade, was given a rousing ovation from the full house, and HASC too deserved a similarly intense applause for their spirited effort against a very professional Churchill side. A goal from new signing Henry Antchouet, two minutes into the second half, gave the Goan side their third win from four matches, and they now lie second with ten points. HASC are second from bottom with just a solitary point from four games.

Churchill started the game much better, calling the shots in midfield and their two foreign strikers -- Henry and ND Opara -- constantly causing a threat with their aerial ability and power. But the first couple of chances came the home side’s way with Malemngamba Meitei and James Singh testing goalkeeper Felix D’Souza with a couple of long-rangers.
Churchill’s best effort came in the 23rd minute when Zakeer Mundampara, who had two glorious chances to kill off the game in the second half, struck a low shot from 16 yards out, which was well saved by goalkeeper P Pramod.

At the other end, A Hamza went close, heading wide from a James corner. James then should have put his side in front. Lilliyan Kennath, who came in for Ajit Kumar Singh in the first half, gave a nice pass to James,  who played it wide to the impressive Vinoth Kumar.

Vinoth laid it back to James, who continued his run inside the box, but the midfielder’s weak shot was deflected wide.

The second half began with Churchill again looking to break the deadlock, and the opener came in the 47th minute off a freekick. After Biju Kumar, who along with Joseph Femi defended really well against the big Churchill strikers, impeded Opara and Steven Dias stepped in to take the freekick. He sent in a superb curler which was misjudged by Pramod and the HASC defence, leaving Henry with the easy job of heading into an open net.

HASC almost equalised immediately, but Hamza’s goal, after some good work from veteran RC Prakash and Meitei, was disallowed for offside.

Soon after, the crowd erupted as Xavier was brought on in the 56th minute, with the midfielder immediately showing some good moves down the left flank.

Zakeer then had a couple of really good chances to put the game to bed. The first one was sent high and wide after he found some space inside the box, and the second was heroically saved of the line by Femi after the goalkeeper was beaten.

HASC brought on their new signing Aleksandar Sujdovic with ten minutes remaining, but the Serbian could not find the equaliser as the home side crashed to their third defeat.

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