Sankata hold Army 1-1, deny top spotArmy go level on 13 points with leaders Machhindra but are second in the standings on goal difference.
Sankata Club staged a second-half fightback to hold contenders Tribhuvan Army Club for a 1-1 draw on Tuesday and deny the 10-man departmental team a chance for the outright lead in the Martyrs Memorial 'A' Division League standings.
In the match held at the Dashrath Stadium, star forward Nawayug Shrestha put Army ahead in the first half, but Amit Tamang equalised for Sankata in the 55th minute. Army were forced to play almost the entire second half with 10 men.
The result has put Army level on 13 points with leaders Machhindra Club from six matches. But Machhindra occupy the top place in the table on better goal difference. Sankata remain in eighth place with as many points.
In the 28th minute, Nepali international Shrestha broke the deadlock for the departmental team with a diving header on a Dinesh Henjan cross.
In the 52nd minute, Army were reduced to 10 men when defender Yuddha Shahi was sent off after collecting a second yellow card for bringing down Laxman Ruchal.
Taking advantage of their numerical advantage, Sankata were awarded a penalty in the 55th minute after Suman Aryal handled the ball inside the area.
Tamang made no mistake from the spot to bring Sankata back at level terms.
Army coach Nabin Neupane, who was also yellow along with manager Chun Bahadur Thapa, blamed immature referee decision for the defeat.
"We exactly played in the way we should have in modern football. But poor refereeing decision let us down. Those referees who were supposed to officiate 'A' Division matches have been to Bangladesh for Bangabandhu Cup," indicating to referees Sudhish Pandey and Rojen Shrestha who left for Bangladesh on Tuesday. "We played with a man down due to wrong decision of the referee who only qualifies to officiate 'B' and 'C' division leagues. But despite playing with a man down, we managed a draw."
Army forward Bharat Khawas, who replaced goalscorer Shrestha in the 81st minute, was stretchered off the field in the 89th minute. Khawas, a part of the Army wall, was knocked unconscious after being struck by Ruchal’s freekick on the head. He, however, regained consciousness after first aid treatment.
Sankata coach Bijay Maharjan expressed satisfaction with the outcome. "Though we have arrived with a target of three points, I am happy with the draw," said Maharjan.