November 7, 2013 3:09:32 am
As the clock ticked past the 90-minute mark,Pune FC,1-0 up against a hardworking Bengaluru FC side looked to have pocketed three points. With the clock winding down,the side from Bangalore seemed to cast the dice one last time. Thoi Singh,the winger passed the ball to Liberian midfielder,John Menyongar. The Liberian took the ball and weaved past Gurjinder Kumar and the covering Arata Izumi. With only defensive midfielder Mumtaz Akhtar to beat in the Pune FC box,the Bengaluru FC defender must have fancied his chances.
However,24-year-old Akhtar seemed to have made Menyongars day and handed Bengaluru FC an unlikely reprieve. The combative midfielder,inexplicably hacked at Menyongars legs in a half-hearted attempt at getting the ball. Menyongar went to ground and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Australian attacker James Meyer,who gave Pune FC the lead in the 71st minute,was seen giving goalkeeper Arup Debnath an earful as the infuriated custodian seemed to be caught up in haranguing the errant Akhtar.
Meyer sent Debnath back to his line,and the Kolkata-born 26-year-old,playing his first game of the season,smarting from the chastisement that he received pulled off a blinder. Menyongar drilled the penalty hard and low to the left,Debnath flew across his goal and smothered the ball. However,the ball was not completely in the keepers grasp as it trickled under his body and looked to be rolling into the goal,only for the giant Bengalis palm to come down just in time and grasp it firmly in its grasp.
Debnaths last-minute heroics ensured that Pune FC kept their winning run at home intact. Meyer,the Australian winger,had given his side the lead in the 71st minute,barely five minutes after he was brought on as a substitute.
Meyers 20-yard effort,drilled fiercely along the Balewadi stadiums turf,gave Bengaluru FCs keeper,Pawan Kumar,who had earlier saved a penalty himself,no chance. The ball kissed the bar post on its way in,finally nestling in the bottom-left corner.
Before Meyers goal though,Pune FC seemed woefully short on ideas in the final third. Striker,Mustapha Riga,starting only his second game,regularly got into good positions in the opposition penalty box but was rather inadequate when it came to adding the final touch. The midfield,
marshaled excellently by the imperious Douhou Pierre,seemed to keep giving the ball to Riga,only for the Dutch striker to draw a blank.
In the 31st minute,Arata Izumi,who turned in a patchy performance was felled in the box by Bengaluru FCs English defender,John Johnson. The resulting penalty though,taken by defender Gurjinder Kumar was tapped straight to the opposition goalie and the body language of the Pune FC players seemed to suggest that they had squandered their best opportunity.
Bengaluru FC though determined and frisky,were done in by their lack of potency on the wings. The midfield failed to release the ball efficiently to the wingers,who in turn often skied their crosses,leaving Australian striker,Sean Rooney,to cut a frustrated figure.
The visitors were,however,denied their best chance in the fifth minute of the game when Pune FCs skipper Anas Edathodika calmly cleared a powerful header from Johnson inches off the Pune FC goal line.
The three points that Pune FC earned on Wednesday night put them second on the table. However,in what must be a major worry for Pune FC coach Mike Snoei,out of the eight goals that Pune FC have scored in their seven outings,only one goal has come off the boot of an Indian.
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