March 7, 2009 1:11:17 am
For most of the 90 minutes,the Pune FC think-tank played mid-fielder Shanmugam Venkatesh from left and right,to allow him more space to hold on to the ball and feed the forwards,but amid the numerous shots and opportunities the former Indian skipper missed and created,his 54th-minute strike,right from the crowded centre of the box,hit the scoreboard for the only time in the day. Nods and words over whether Pune FCs 1-0 victory margin over Simla Youngs couldve been better were doing the rounds in the Devi Lal Stadium,but on Venkateshs game there were few arguments made.
A bite of the pie also belonged to coach Stewart Hall who took the opponents by surprise in the second half by assigning different roles to his players. Apart from Venkatesh shuffling across the midfield,Nigerian forward Chika Wali became a support cast for Jeje Lalpekhula who started as a defender,leaving the Simla Youngs defenders confused for Samson Oyeleke,Jaktu Hembron and Premlal Kujur had done little wrong in the first half in holding the same bunch.
What made things worse for them was Charles Efemenas injury and the striker could be seen limping with the match hardly into its 30th minute. Failing to combine with Tsering Dhundup,Obed Kamei,Manoj Chaudhary and Umesh Sharma in the midfield,he was often outnumbered by rival defenders. To fill in the void,Samson kept pushing down to the opponent half for most of the free-kicks and corner kicks,but this left the danger area vacant for Venkatesh and Co.
Pune FCs strikers,especially Sewram Gobin,however,failed to capitalise on at least four occasions twice failing to beat goalkeeper Karma Lepcha from one-on-one positions and then missing the open net as many times as he misdirected crosses from Venkatesh from both wings.
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