Xavier brace rescues Aircraftmen

HASC skipper helps his team post 2-2 draw against Chandni FC

Xavier brace rescues Aircraftmen

WHO FIRST? HASC’s Satish Kumar Jr (right) and Faisal of Chandni FC fight for possession during their I-League II division football tie in Bangalore on Wednesday. DH Photo

The match witnessed numerous stoppages and seven yellow cards, with the referee M Arokiaraj having a busy time.

As HASC struggled, veteran striker Xavier put his experience to good use towards the closing stages with his composed finish securing a fighting draw for his team at the Bangalore Football stadium.

Riding high after drubbing BEML Sports Club 3-0 in their opening encounter on Sunday, HASC took off like a jet plane when Xavier forced Chandni goalkeeper Sakeer Hussain to make a leaping save as early as the first minute.

However the Kozhikode outfit, the youngest team in the tournament with an average age of 21, shocked HASC by marching into the lead in the sixth minute. After HASC’s Jai Kumar conceded a needless corner, Hasim Malik volleyed from the edge of the box off a defensive clearance, the ball dipping sharply into the net.

Xavier, still the vital cog in HASC’s wheel, showed his class after he out-muscled Chandni’s Niaz Rehman and rifled the ball home from just inside the box for the equaliser in the 18th minute.

Just when it appeared the HASC were recovering momentum, Naveen Babu handled the ball inside the box in the 21st minute and medio Javeek OK converted from the spot to hand Chandni the upper hand once again.

The early rush of goals could have set the tone for a cracking encounter but what spanned out was a stop-start affair. Harsh challenges, silly tackles and an highly theatrical show from HASC’s Fredrick Okwagbe interrupted the flow of the game.

Past the hour, HASC came close to equalising but were denied by resolute Chandni defending. Fredrick came close to scoring in the 76th minute but his powerful header hit the underside of the crossbar in the 76th minute. With three minutes left, Satish Kumar Sr floated a cross from the left that was stopped by Satish Jr for Xavier, who nailed it home, to the relief of his mates.

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