Tribhuvan Army consolidate position at top with 2-1 win over APFArmy reclaim top spot after Machhindra briefly hold the top spot after a 6-1 thrashing of lowly Saraswoti.
Tribhuvan Army and Macchindra made strong statements on their title claim with convincing victories in the Martyrs Memorial 'A' Division League on Thursday.
Army reclaimed the top spot with a 2-1 win over Armed Police Force after Machhindra had momentarily climbed up top with a 6-1 thrashing of Saraswoti Youth in the earlier fixture.
A first-half brace from Santosh Tamang on either side of Aashish Lama equaliser helped Army earn all three points to maintain a one-point lead in the standings.
The Army went ahead 16 minutes into the first half after captain Bharat Khawas was fouled inside the area by Ramesh Dangal. Tamang put the ball into the ball after on a rebound after his initial shot from the spot was blocked by Armed Police Force goalkeeper Raju Yogi. However, Lama restored parity for the APF 21 minutes later.
It did not take long for the Army to reclaim the lead as Tamang found the net with a screaming freekick in the 41st minute. The APF pressed hard in the second half but could not break the Army resolve as they secured the win.
Army coach Nabin Neupane acknowledged that his team were under pressure against APF. "The most important thing is the fact that we won the three points. We are now two steps away, the objective is to play well and win those matches to lift the title," he said.
APF coach Rajendra Tamang appreciated the strength of the Army squad. "They have players with a lot of experience who can absorb pressure and produce something special," he said.
"We did not create many chances against them, which makes it evident that our boys lack experience," said Tamang, "Conceding through a defensive error made it worse for us."
Earlier, five second-half goals saw title contenders Machhindra Club thrash Saraswoti Youth Club 6-1.
After completely dominating the proceedings for much of the first half, Machhindra finally found the back of the net five minutes before half time. Devendra Tamang put Machhindra ahead with a powerful header on a corner from full-back.
Machhindra continued the momentum in the second half as Dipak Rai doubled their lead in the 54th minute, rounding off Saraswoti custodian Pradeep Bhandari.
Five minutes later, Bishal Rai extended the lead to 3-0. Dipak Rai then marked his brace in the 77th minute. He had converted his attempt after collecting a flick pass from Yogesh Gurung to put Machhindra 4-0 ahead.
Machhindra were awarded a penalty a minute later after Adejala Somide was brought down in the area by Saraswoti captain Raj Shahi. Machhindra’s dead-ball specialist Ranjit Dhimal, who is regularly assigned with the responsibility of penalties, handed the ball to Dipak Rai who was on a hat-trick. But the forward failed to mark his personal achievement as his effort from 12 yards went above the bar.
Saraswoti found a late consolation through a penalty in the 87th minute after Machhindra defender Peter Segun handed the ball inside the area. Kazeem Busari made no mistake but it was already too late for the bottom-placed side to make a comeback into the match.
Machhindra scored two more goals in the additional time through Somide and Andres Nia to win a match with the first tennis-like scoreline in the domestic top flight this season.
Despite the disastrous result, Saraswoti coach Pradip Nepal said that his side, staring relegation, has not lost hopes just yet. "We still have two matches to play. We must win those two matches to avoid relegation."
Machhindra coach Prabesh Katuwal was elated with his team's performance. "Despite the failure in converting our opportunities in the first half, we were clinical in the second," he said,
"Our next match against Sankata, the last year’s runners-up, will be very crucial," said Katuwal whose side are aiming to win the title.
The win has lifted Machhindra to second spot in the standings, while Saraswoti find themselves languishing in the 14th with only four points from 11 matches.
Three Star vs Sankata 1130 NST
Nepal Police vs Brigade Boys 1500 NST
Venue: ANFA Complex, Satdobato