Okwagbe strike helps HASC hold Malabar

SBT edge past Chandni to notch maiden victory

Okwagbe strike helps HASC hold Malabar

 HASC’s Fredrick Okwagbe (foreground) battles for possession with Malabar United’s Emmanuel Ajaawa in the I-League Division II match in Bangalore on Monday. DH PHOTO

Despite their third successive draw, the Aircraftmen continue to lead the table with six points from four matches while State Bank of Travancore opened their points tally with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Chandni FC.

Kochi side Chandni, who needed a win to displace HASC from top of the table, share the second spot with Malabar (five points) — the former having played an extra game.
Lack of co-ordination among the three components -- defence, mid-field and attack -- hurt both HASC and Malabar in their match. This resulted in both the teams losing possession quickly and spraying the ball all over, eventually serving out a sordid affair much to the dismay of fans.

The displeasure among the home crowd was quite evident when HASC captain Xavier Vijay Kumar was booed after he allowed a ball slip between his legs towards the fag end of the match. Xavier, usually a vibrant spirit, appeared a shadow of his best while his strike partner Frederick Okwagbe from Nigeria was below par once again. With playmaker Satish Kumar Jr also having a sub-par day, they lacked quality in moves.
Malabar marched into the lead in the 15th minute, perhaps with the only moment of brilliance the contest produced. Vijesh Kumar PU sent a defence-splitting pass from the left and Jacken Sebastian ran forward to trap it before the lobbing the ball over advancing goalkeeper Amar Deb into the net.

Okwagbe equalised for HASC in the 32nd minute when Malabar custodian Jaafar fumbled with Joseph Femi Adeola’s header off Xavier’s corner kick, and the Nigerian import made a regulation tap-in from point blank.  However, Okwagbe missed a great chance to seal victory in the final minute when he shot straight at the hands of Jaafar, despite being unmarked and having enough time to pick his spot.

SBT win

SBT, who have lost their opening two matches, produced a commanding second-half performance to edge their Kozhikode rivals. After missing a slew of chances, Mohammed Aslam headed in sharply off Abdul Noushad’s corner kick in the 74th minute.

Results: Group B: At New Delhi: SESA Football Academy: 4 (Marcus Mascherenhas 10th, Jaiganseh Goltekar 40th, Inacio Colaco 46th, Israil Gurung 86th) bt New Delhi Heroes: 2 (Jiten Rai 48th, Baba Tunde 90th); Simla Youngs FC Delhi: 1 (Ugochukwu 64th) bt Indian National: 0. Group C: At Tinsukia: Ar-Hima: 0 lt to Oil India: 3 (HL Routa 38th, Jayanta Basumatry 42nd, Adekunle O Whheed 81st). At Digboi: Denzong Boys: 0 lt to JCB, Bhilai: 4 (Emmanuel Ini 24th, 71st, 76th, Ramchandra Murmu 29th).

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