Kolkata, Feb 14 (PTI) Gurpanthjeet Singh scored the only goal of the match as Indian Arrows recorded their first victory of the I-League season with a 1-0 result against Kolkata giants Mohammedan SC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, here on Sunday.
The AIFF's developmental side displayed heroic defending and goalkeeping after Gurpanthjeet's goal in the 26th minute to beat the Black Panthers in the first-ever encounter between the two sides in the I-League.
Mohammedan Sporting started the game with high-intensity football, trying to press the Indian Arrows for any mistakes. They created the first opening of the game in the fourth minute.
However, Nikhil Kadam's low cross from inside the area was well blocked by Amandeep Singh. Minutes later, Shilton D’Silva, himself a former Arrows cadet, came close to opening the score, but his long-ranger was wide of the Arrows’ goal.
Mohammedan continued their attacks but were unable to find their target as Faisal Ali’s swerved long-range effort went high over the Indian Arrows goal in the eighth minute.
The Indian Arrows settled into the game and created a chance in the 12th minute as Vellington Fernandes’ cut back header from Gurkirat Singh’s cross was landed just behind Harsh Patre.
Mohammedan came inches from scoring in the 20th minute when John Chidi connected to Hira Mondal’s long throw, but his powerful header struck the post. Despite all their attacking pressure, the Black Panthers lacked the finesse in front of goal. The first goal finally came in the 26th minute as Arrows struck the opener against the run of play. Gurkirat Singh’s freekick bounced right in front of the keeper, forcing a weak save from Shubham Roy. The ball looped in the air and the tall Gurpanthjeet Singh out-jumped the defenders to nod the ball over the line.
Shocked by the goal, Mohammedan went full-throttle on the Arrows. However, the Arrows were able to thwart them and break on the counter with Vellington Fernandes. Fuelled by a goal from the last game, the midfielder attempted an audacious lob from distance, trying to catch the keeper out. However, his effort was wide of the target.
Mohammedan came close again in the 39th minute, but Faiaz’s header from Manoj’s early cross landed on the roof of the net. Jose Hevia’s side was unable to test the Indian Arrows custodian Ahaan Prakash up until the 44th minute, when Gani Nigam drew a save at the near post.
Venkatesh Shanmugan’s side headed into the break with their lead intact.
Mohammedan showed much better-attacking display immediately after the break. Faizal Ali’s cross from the right-wing was met by Gani Nigam at the near post, but his connection was not strong enough to beat Ahaan Kumar.
Aided by solid defending and a number of substitutions, Indian Arrows continued to hold Mohammedan out. Mohammedan kept pushing forward, and this created a gap in the back for the Arrows to exploit, with around 10 minutes to go.
Taison Singh’s early low cross pulled out the keeper of position, and reached Shreyas Ketkar, who could not hit the empty net from a very narrow-angle.
Surviving by the skin of their teeth, Mohammedan continued to attack the Indian Arrows goal and created another opening in the 89th minute.
However, Sanjib Ghosh's volley from Hira Mondal's shot did not have enough power and went straight into the hands of a grateful Ahaan Prakash.
Hira Mondal did not give up and came again in the 92nd minute. But his shot from his weaker foot was safely handled by Hero of the Match Ahaan Kumar.
The Arrows had a couple of chances in injury time, but were unable to churn anything out of them, as they ran the clock out and secured their first victory of the season. PTI AT AT PDS PDS