Policemen dent HASC's title hopes

Football BDFA Super Division: Aircraftmen left to wait for result of South United vs MEG match

Fancied Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club’s hopes of regaining the BDFA Super Division League title suffered a big blow as they were held to a goalless draw by Karnataka State Police (KSP) at the Bangalore Football Stadium here on Saturday.

The draw meant HASC finished their campaign with 23 points from 10 matches, while second-placed South United FC can clinch the championship with a win against Madras Engineer Group on Sunday, the concluding day of the League. In such a scenario, both South United and the Aircraftmen will be level on points, but the debutants are ahead on goal difference (+22) as compared to HASC (+17).

The draw also helped KSP stay in the top flight for another season. The Policemen needed at least a point from their final fixture after Postal got the better of Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) 1-0 in the early kick-off. Both KSP and Postal finished with 11 points, but the former avoided relegation due to a better goal difference (+2) as opposed to the latter (-4).

Desperation brought the best out of KSP in an exciting match played in front of a packed house. Defender Sameer Ahmed along with captain Pradeep BV and goalkeeper Nagendra made sure they kept a clean slate.

HASC, surprisingly looked jaded and though their Nigerian striker Emmanuel made a few runs in the early part, KSP defence stood firm. HASC’s B Prakash shot over from the edge of the box in the 31st minute.

KSP had a close shave after Inayathulla’s attempted clearance off a cross by Emmanuel from right wing hit the crossbar and sailed over in the 34th minute. Couple of minutes later it was the Aircraftmen who heaved a sigh of relief as M Karthick headed into the sidenetting after Inayathulla provided a fine cross.

HASC brought striker D Raju in place of midfielder Gautam after the half-time. However, it was KSP who had the better of the early exchanges. Inayathulla failed to keep his header down off a free-kick in the 49th minute and Karthick failed to hit the target from inside the box in the 57th minute.

B Prakash missed a volley from close range on the hour mark as frustration crept into HASC ranks. Soon Karthick was injured in a goalmouth melee. He was replaced by Pradeep Kumar as the Policemen defended in numbers. Emmanuel and Prakash combined to make a move down the right wing. But the latter’s cross was gathered acrobatically by Nagendra. The ’keeper came to KSP’s rescue again as he tipped over a powerful volley by Nigerian Kingsley two minutes from time.

Earlier, Venaktesh’s 67th-minute strike helped Postal down ADE, who ended up sixth with 12 points.

Sunday’s match: South United vs MEG (3.15 pm)

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