MMC fight back for draw against SankataThe eight-time champions rally from behind twice and score in the stoppage time for a 2-2 draw while NRT and Chyasal share points after 1-1 stalemate.
Eight times champions Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) were forced to come from behind twice and salvage a 2-2 draw against Sankata Club as they missed their chance to go two points clear at top in the Martyrs Memorial 'A' Division League at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwar on Saturday.
Niraj Basnet had given a first half lead to Sankata before Indian midfielder Dayananda Singh Elangbam equalised shortly. Substitute Uttam Gurung put Sankata back into the lead but they failed to hold on as Nigerian defender Franklin Kute Talla scored in the fading moments to rescue a point for the MMC.
With their first draw after the third match, MMC came level on points with leaders Satdobato Youth Club who have seven points. But they are second due to goal differences. Sankata are third with five points.
Both the sides struggled to create clear chances until the half an hour mark before MMC skipper Anjan Bista was denied from the goalline. The winger's strike at the open net from an almost impossible angle beat Sankata goalie Raju Babu Thapa but was defended from the goalline by Niraj Basnet.
Sankata took the lead in the 31st when defender Basnet was allowed a free header from the area as he turned winger Laxman Ruchal's right flank freekick.
The lead could not last longer as MMC restored parity in the 35th through Elangbam, who headed from the area capitalising on Pujan Uperkoti's freekick.
Sankata came closer to scoring in the early second half but defender Tampi Ernest ended up with a feeble shot from close range allowing goalie Bishal Sunar for a diving save.
Nigerian forward Olawale Afeez produced a threat for MMC at the stroke of an hour when he slammed at the far post only to miss the target by a whisker.
Substitute Uttam Rai restored Sankata's lead in the 70th converting Fode Fofana’s cross from the six-yard box.
MMC piled consistent pressure after conceding the second goal and Pravesh Kunwar applied a scorcher in a short pass of Adelaja Somide but goalie Thapa reacted quickly to deny it.
Their sustained pressure was rewarded in the last minute of stoppage time as Talla hit back an equaliser with a sublime finish. His quick volley from the arch of the area capitalising on poor header clearance by Basnet entered at left top despite goalie Thapa feeling the ball roll off his palm.
MMC coach Rajendra Tamang said that his side failed to maintain their game rhythm and ball possession. "We failed to play to our potential and conceded both goals due to defensive lapses. We had quality players. But as a team Sankata were better than us," said Tamang.
An elated Sankata caoch Bishnu Gurung said he was happy with the team's performance. "We had come with new plans because we were wary of the individual quality of MMC players," said Gurung, who has taken charge of the 'A' division team for the first time. "We lacked concentration in the later stage and conceded an equaliser," he added.
NRT's wait for victory continues
New Road Team (NRT) came from behind to salvage a 1-1 draw against Chyasal Youth Club but their wait for first win in the league still continues.
Substitute Dipesh Ghale scored deep into the second half to cancel Rumesh Bartaula's first half lead for Chyasal.
NRT, still winless after the third match, are joint ninth in the standings with two points after two draws. Chyasal, with a draw, a win and a defeat, are joint fourth with four points.
NRT's veteran coach Raju Kaji Shakya said his side was forced to settle for one point despite coming into the match with a three-point ambition.
"We played better than in the past. Our domestic players played better than foreigners. The foreign recruits had played really well in the Nepal Super League, but they have failed to perform to that level now," said Shakya. "However, I am happy with the performance and if we give continuity to this performance, we could finish in a good position in the standings."
Chyasal coach Bal Gopal Sahukhala blamed the referee for failing to take control of the match. "We failed to execute our game plan and NRT played well," said Sahukhala.
NRT wasted a scoring chance in the 22nd when midfielder Darshan Gurung ended up firing wide from the six-yard box in Ashok Thapa’s cross.
Chyasal took the lead one minute before the interval as Bartaula fired a volley from the box after NRT's Messouke Oloumou failed to clear Kamal Shrestha's freekick.
NRT restored parity in the 79th after midfielder Ghale collected a poor clearance of Rajiv Lopchan and fired a low strike beyond the reach of goalie Arpan Karki.