BFC sign off with draw at home

BFC sign off with draw at home

Westwood's men gain a creditable point to extend their lead at the top of table

BFC sign off with draw at home

Both sides had enough chances to win two matches but a 1-1 verdict was a fair result as I-League title contenders Bengaluru FC clashed against Pune FC here at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Friday.

The home fans, watching their team for the last time this season, and perhaps, for the final time before the refurbishment of the stadium, were in full attendance as Thoi Singh gave them the lead in the 25th minute.

But they couldn’t hang on as Pune FC grabbed a deserved equaliser through Anthony De Souza in the 74th minute.

The draw means BFC (38 points from 21 matches) extend their lead at the top by a point over Salgaocar (34 from 20), who face Rangdajied on Saturday. Pune are on 31 from 20 matches. BFC finished their home games with seven wins, four draws and a single loss in their first season -- an admirable record.

The teams lined as expected and there were early chances for Sean Rooney but ’keeper Arup Debnath saved both times.

Just as Pune FC were beginning to exert themselves, BFC got in front.

After the ball broke to Rooney on the right, he dribbled almost to the byline before putting in a looping cross which found the onrushing Sunil Chhetri from the left but his close-range strike found only the inside of the post and rolled out. Thoi was on hand to poke past Debnath to send the crowd into raptures.

Croatian Mirjan Pavlovic then struck the bar from a corner but the equaliser still eluded Pune.

BFC opted to play on the counter in the second-half and as they invited the opposition, Pune struck.

Gabriel Fernandes, who gave a torrid time to left back Keegan Pereira, sent in a precise cross that was nodded home from close range by D’Souza, who had been brought on for the ineffective Arata Izumi.

Then Thongkhosiem Haokip had a point blank header parried off the line by custodian Soram Porei in the 83rd minute before Thoi wasted a chance after good work from Johnny Menyongar.

Both teams had half-chances in the dying moments but were unable to find the finishing touch.

BFC coach Ashley Westwood was happy with the point.

“It’s a point and a decent one at that.” He also credited the club’s backroom staff for the way Gurtej and Sorem filled in.

““Full credit to the backroom staff because Sorem and Gurtej played like they have been in the team all season long.”

 Pune FC coach Mike Snoei had a warning to Westwood saying the title was far from being decided. “Sorry to BFC and Ashley but it is not yet over. They have three away games, while we have three home games.” 

After the match, the BFC players unfurled a thank you message to the crowd but there would be no niceties from them as they chase the title in the last three games (Mohun Bagan on April 6, Dempo on April 21 and Sporting Clube de Goa on April 26).

Incredible Tolgay

In the day’s other match, Tolgay Ozbey (8th, 30th, 45+1, 88th) scored a remarkable four times as Dempo FC scored a resounding 4-1 win over Churchill Brothers on Sunday. Abdel Shabana (57th) scored a consolation goal for Churchill Brothers.
Dempo are on 31 points from 21 matches, while Churchill are on 18 points from 19 matches and remain in danger of relegation.

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