Pune FCs campaign in the 126th edition of the Durand Cup ended after a 2-1 defeat to ONGC FC in their final group game at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi. Pune FC finished the quarterfinal group stage in third place behind ONGC and Army Red in Group-IV.
Against ONGC FC,all three goals were scored in the space of four minutes midway through the second half. Striker Ezeh Henrys quickfire double (61st and 63rd minute) gave ONGC the lead before Adeola Mohammed Hassan scored an own goal (64th) to cut down the deficit.
Pune FC made three changes to the team that faced Army Red Monday. Striker Prakash Thorat,defender Kaushal Singh and goalkeeper Shahinlal Meloly made way for Sumit Kumar Dubey,Altamash Sayed and Avilash Paul.
In the opening exchanges,it was Pune FC who saw most of the ball,as they played a high pressing game. Kiran C and Sayed both saw their long-range attempts go wide in the first 10 minutes,while left-back Gobind Singh had a go himself in the 12th minute,only to see the ball go over the bar.
As the game progressed,ONGC started settling down,but the former I-League side failed to trouble the Caitano Costa-led defence,as the Pune FC backline held firm.
At the other end,midfielder Sayed,involved in many Pune FC attacks,tried to break the deadlock with a left-footed attempt in the 18th minute,but the shot went agonizingly wide.
Two minutes after the half-hour mark,Singh made a delightful overlapping run from the left flank and crossed into the box. However,Sayed,on the run,failed to connect properly,and ONGC FCs defence safely cleared the ball away.
Seven minutes later,Adeola brought down Pune FC striker Vikas Zanje outside the box,but the resultant free kick from Henry Monsang failed to get past the ONGC wall.
A minute before halftime,Pune FC goalkeeper Avilash Paul was called into action for the first time in the game,as ONGC forward Henry connected a cross from the right flank. The young goalkeeper,however,brilliantly caught hold of the incoming header to keep the score unchanged as both teams went into break.
Pune FC continued their forward surge as play resumed. Ten minutes into the second half,Vikas was brought down by Adeola for a second time just outside the box. This time Adeola was booked,but Costas curling free kick went inches high.
Minutes after the hour mark,ONGC scored two goals in succession,courtesy of a Henry double,to give ONGC an unlikely lead.
For the first goal,the ONGC forward was fouled inside the penalty area by Dubey,and Henry made no mistake in disposing off the penalty. As Pune FC tried to recover,Henry doubled his teams lead following a swift counter attack from the right.
At the other end,Pune FC pulled one goal almost instantly. Rushab Dhere,having a good game,made a run into the ONGC area,and his cross into the goalmouth was inadvertently turned in by ONGC defender Adeola,to reduce the score to 2-1.
Pune FC searched of an equalizer and two minutes later had Monsangs long range shot go just over the horizontal. With the score at 2-1 in their favour,ONGC focussed on keeping the ball which allowed Pune FC to throw their attacking might forward.
It wasnt until the 87th minute that Pune FC came close. Substitute Diganta Khaddar on for Manimaran R,made a good run from the right flank. His shot,however,went wide by a few inches. ONGC held on for the next few minutes and the game ended.