Services storm into title clash

Services storm into title clash

Services scored once in each half as they beat Kerala 2-1 at the Barabati Stadium here on Friday to advance to the final of the 66th National football championship for the Santosh Trophy.

Services now await the winner of the second semifinal between Manipur and Tamil Nadu.
Services stroked ahead as early as in the fifth minute through Subrata Sarkar while an own goal by Marsook in the 50th minute put them 2-0 ahead. Vineet Anthony restored a semblance of pride for the Keralites, converting a penalty in the 83rd minute.

After conceeding an early goal, thanks to poor defensive work, Kerala tried to regroup but were hardly allowed any space in the midfield.

Striker R Kannan, with his deft touches and fine runs down the flank, did cause some trouble to Services.

In the 19th minute, R Kannan’s ambitious over-head kick sailed over and then in the 34th minute his long-ranger was fisted over by Services goalkeeper Nanao Singh.

The goal apart, Services’ best chance came in the 36th minute when Sarkar failed to beat Joseph from close after being set in the clear by a Horin through pass.

After the change of ends, Services doubled the lead almost immediately. A harmless PS Sumes cross was back-headed into his own net by Marsook.

Despite the setback, Kerala didn’t give up. In the 55th minute, Kannan broke down the right and his low cross needed a tap from Usman but the latter failed.  Kerala did attack relentlessly as Kannan wrecked havoc in the Services’ box for most part of the second half. But even he failed to reduce the margin when he blasted out from inside the box in the 70th minute.

However, Nanao pulled down Usman in the box in the 83rd minute in the box and substitute Anthony cooly converted from the spot. Inspired, Kerala the went all out but Services survived some anxious moments and managed to hold on.

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