Tough 1-0 win puts Machhindra close to leaders ArmyAn error by Police goalkeeper Chaudhary during Dhimal’s second half freekick keeps Machhindra level on points with the departmental side.
A second-half goal by Ranjit Dhimal helped Machhindra win their match against Nepal Police in the Martyr’s Memorial ‘A’ Division League on Wednesday.
The hard-fought 1-0 win has put Machhindra on level terms with the league leaders Tribhuvan Army with 16 points. The Army side, however, have a game on hand.
In Wednesday’s match, Police were successful in holding at bay the star-studded Machhindra in the first half. The first period of the match was not without chances, though.
Machhindra came close to taking the lead in the additional time of the first half through a header by its Nigerian defender Peter Segun. But the referee ruled the goal as offside.
Fortune favored Machhindra in the second half when they were awarded a freekick in the 54th minute. Behind the dead ball was Dhimal, whose rather weak shot landed at the back of the net after a blunder by Police custodian Shatrudhan Kumar Chaudhary.
Chaudhary had enough time to collect the ball but he fumbled the incoming shot, thus handing Machhindra their solitary match-winning goal.
Police came close to levelling the scoreline in the 75th minute, but the shot by Bhola Silwal was parried by Machhindra goalie Bishal Shrestha.
Six minutes later, Machhindra forward Bishal Rai fired in a rebound after Police keeper Chaudhary repelled Sujal Shrestha’s effort, but the linesman adjudged Rai in an offside position and the goal was nullified.
Police coach Ananta Raj Thapa said other than the error made by Chaudhary, he was content with his side’s performance.
“The boys played to our strategy of holding Machhindra, but the error from our goalkeeper cost us the match.”
“A win today would have kept us in the title chase,” Thapa added. “Errors like that happen at times in football, but we will have to live with that and move on.”
Machhindra coach Prabesh Katuwal he was happy with the end result, but not wholly satisfied with his team’s performance.
“The win puts us close to the leaders, but we failed to create enough chances. Besides the two opportunities which were eventually ruled offside, we were largely contained by Police,” Katuwal said.
Machhindra coach was not at all pleased with his players struggling to connect even short passes.
Machhindra had recruited several top players from other clubs this season. Despite having star names in the squad and finishing second by the end of the first half of the league season, Machhindra have yet to display the kind of football they would have liked.
The team’s forward, Abhisek Rijal, who was the joint top scorer alongside Shrestha at the recently held 13th South Asian Games held in Nepal, is struggling to score.
“Abhisek is yet to find his form for us. He has a lot of talent and when he isn’t scoring, it obviously doesn’t help the team. However, the kind of effort he puts in on and off the pitch is certain to pay dividends sooner than later,” Katuwal said.
“All matches are going to be difficult from here on, as the points gap isn’t that large If we are to end the season as winners, we must have a better attacking intent, create more goal scoring opportunities and work more on our finishing aspect.”
Himalayan Sherpa play Three Star in the noon kick-off on Thursday, followed by the 3pm clash between Jawalakhel Youth Club and Armed Police Force. Both matches will be played at the Dashrath Stadium.