Debnath, Prakash help HASC break barren spell

Aircraftmen play out 2-2 draw against Sporting Clube

Victory remained elusive but battered Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club at least kick-started the year with some hope, securing a point against Sporting Club de Goa here on Wednesday.

Sporting Clube de Goa’s Anthony D'Souza and HASC’s Vinod Kumar vie for possession during their I-League match on Wednesday. DH PHOTO/ KISHOR KUMAR BOLAR

Veteran RC Prakash scored a freak goal and midfielder Gautam Debnath fired home a brilliant long-ranger for the hosts while Sporting rode on a wonderful brace from the talented Anthony D’Souza as both teams played out a mediocre 2-2 stalemate in their 13th round I-League fixture at the Bangalore Football Stadium. The result helped the Aircraftmen break a sequence of eight defeats.

With the sun beating down hard on the artificial turf and the players from either side struggling to hold possession, the opening half hour of the match was pretty much what many would have envisaged between two bottom-half teams. Balls were played without any intent, energy was hardly existent and the midfield almost invisible as both teams appeared to sit back and settle for a draw.

However, the match suddenly sprang to life on the half-hour mark when the Aircraftmen’s new signing Rohit Chand dribbled past two defenders on the left and fired in a powerful cross, only for the out-of-form striker J Hamza to slot the ball over an open goal from one yard.

As it has happened many times in the past, the Aircraftmen paid for the sin dearly and instantly, as D’Souza put the visitors ahead from a fine counter-attack. South Sudanese player James Moga dribbled into the box from the right, relayed the ball to Dawson Fernandes, who upon realising that he had no space, quickly passed it to an unmarked D’Souza. The medio then blasted the ball home as HASC heads began to drop.

A comedy of errors six minutes later brought the hosts on level terms. An unmarked Hamza -- who for the second season running has been nothing but poor -- somehow found a way to mis-time a sharp cross from Vinod Kumar. The ball, however, ricocheted off an advancing Sporting ’keeper Gerard D’Mello before neatly falling to Prakash, the veteran making no mistake with the dolly.

Post the goals, the match lost its tempo as both sides played for half-time. It then exploded to life upon resumption. The second half has generally been the Aircraftmen’s bane, with the team often self-destructing from positions of strength but this time around they had something to cheer about.

Prakash played a routine pass from the left to Debnath and the medio rifled home a stunning goal from 25 yards out to put the hosts 2-1 ahead in the 50th minute. The joy, however, was shortlived as Sporting levelled within two minutes, thanks to an erroneous piece of defending.D’Souza dribbled in from the left, and left with acres of space inside the box, took his time before slamming it low past goalkeeper P Pramod.
The match then petered to a tame finish, the teams seemingly happy with a point each. HASC remain stuck to the bottom with two points while Sporting stay put at 11th with 14 points.

Chirag shine

Goals in either half helped Chirag United Kerala thwart a complacent Mumbai FC’s bid for a hat-trick of wins as the visitors won 2-0 in Mumbai.

David Sunday set up the first goal for Asif K in the 14th minute before finding the net himself in the 51st minute.

In Margao, ten-man Salgaocar Sports Club warded off the challenge from visitors Shillong Lajong with a 2-1 win.

Salgaocar scored through Ryuji Sueoka (15th) and Ishfaq Ahmed (52nd) while the visitors scored through Iyekwoba C Christopher in the 39th minute.

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