Jotin strike hands HASC nervy win in opener

Vasco rally to score 2-1 victory over SESA

Jotin strike hands HASC nervy win in opener

 HASC’s Jotin Singh (left) and Malabar United’s PU Vijesh Kumar vie for the ball in their I-League Second Division final round match on Friday. DH Photo

Missing three key players to suspension, including experienced captain Xavier Vijay Kumar, the local champions were stretched to the limit by the tenacious Kerala side but, assisted by some good fortune, the Aircraftmen managed to scramble home at the Bangalore Football stadium.

Backed by an encouraging crowd who had earlier witnessed the tournament’s opening fixture between Goan teams Vasco Sports Club and SESA Football Academy, HASC appeared to make a strong statement.

They held the better share of possession and created some fine moves in the opening half, leaving Malabar with plenty to think about. Looking a lot more energised and focussed, the Aircraftmen kept pressing forward and made fine forays into the rival citadel, but the perennial problem of poor finishing kept haunting them.

Playmaker Satish Kumar Jr shot a loose ball straight at Malabar goalkeeper Jaafer A from 20 yards in the 31st minute before hitting wide from 12 yards eight minutes later.
Just when frustration was beginning to mount, Jotin calmed the nerves with neat finish in injury time.

Ricky Joy delivered a neat cross from the right into the box for Jotin to apply the finishing touches with a fine header. Malabar, the only undefeated team from the group campaigns, did regroup upon resumption and caught the HASC napping with defence-splitting passes and bursts of speed.

 Jacken Sebastien dribbled past two defenders and even beat advancing custodian Amar Deb, but with too much pace on the ball, the striker could only shoot out despite an open goal. HASC suffered a heart-stopping moment in the 69th minute when defender Joseph Femi headed the ball from outside the box back to Deb.

The custodian’s late decision to advance and collect allowed Javed PA to burst through and lob the ball over, but it ricocheted off the post before falling back to Javed. His second shot was cleared off the goalline by Jai Kumar.

Vasco off to good start

Earlier, Vasco battled hard to score a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over SESA. Lezly Fernandes put SESA ahead in the 40th minute while Biju Kumar TV equalised in the 75th minute before Joy Ferdao sealed victory for Vasco, four minutes from time.

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