Anil Pawar and Ravikanth Naidu scored in either half to help Western Railway scrape past Indian Navy 2-1 in the second match of the Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF) Nadkarni Cup.
Shaji D’Silva got one back for Indian Navy in the final third to send the match into a tight finish, but Western Railway defended their lead and collected a valuable three points.
The star performer was Western Railway’s 26-year-old striker Reuben D’souza, who created multiple chances for his team, only to be let down by some poor finishing.
D’souza wasn’t too pleased with his team’s performance: “We started well in the first quarter but fell back after scoring. They dominated most of the game, but I think we deserved to win,” he said.
After the win, a confident D’souza said Western Railway was targeting a place in the final. “We’re practicing hard, although we’re a little short of players. But an appearance in the final is what we’re targeting,” he said.
Earlier, Anil Pawar had put the Navy on the backfoot within the first five minutes of the game as he coolly slotted in a corner kick. Western Railway then dominated the first quarter of the match and constantly asked questions of the Navy keeper, Bhaskar Roy.
However, Indian Navy slowly clawed their way back into the game with midfielder Pawandeep Singh constantly threatening the Railway’s defence. But they were unable to trouble the scorers as the Railway’s keeper, Thanuj, kept his side in the game with a string of fine saves. The two teams went into the break with the score at 1-0.
Twenty minutes into the second half, left-back Dalraj Singh came close twice, but luck seemd to have deserted the Navy team.
With the clock ticking away, Western Railway got a penalty against the run of play in the 79th minute. Naidu, who had had a mediocre game so far, stepped up to take it and coolly found the bottom-right corner.
Indian Navy’s Shaji D’Silva pulled one back a minute later. But it was to be Western Railways’ day.
On Wednesday, RCF beat Maharashtra State Police 2-1.