I-League: Neroca beat Arrows to cement third spot
Neroca FC defeated a valiant Indian Arrows 2-0 in an I-League encounter at the Tilak Maidan Stadium here on Tuesday
Neroca FC defeated a valiant Indian Arrows 2-0 in an I-League encounter at the Tilak Maidan Stadium here on Tuesday. An own goal from Anwar Ali in the 18th minute and a late goal from O. Chidi (90+5) helped Neroca emerge victorious.
Neroca have thus cemented their hold on the third spot on the league table with 18 points from nine matches. They sit just one point shy of second-placed East Bengal.
On the other hand, Indian Arrows stay rooted to the seventh spot with 10 points from 11 matches.
It was end to end football in the early exchanges with the Arrows attacking trio of Edmund, Anwar Ali and K.P. Rahul troubling the visitors' defence.
At the other end, the visitors resorted to the incisiveness of Felix Odili and Subash Singh who were constantly trying to get in behind Arrows defence line.
With the game evenly poised, Arrows suffered a setback when they conceded an own goal in the 18th minute.
It started when Neroca FC tried to use the long ball route to test the Arrows defence.
Yumnam Gopi Singh floated in a ball into the Arrows box from near the touchline. There seemed to be no danger until a defensive mix-up between Anwar Ali and goalkeeper Prabhusukhan Gill turned out to be a costly mistake.
Anwar's header back to the custodian caught Gill unaware. Agonisingly for the Arrows, the ball rolled into the net.
Arrows survived another fright soon after as Neroca almost caught Gill off guard again.
Midfielder Aryn Williams launched a shot on goal from the half-way line after winning possession in midfield. The goalkeeper managed to retrieve back in time to collect the ball on the goal-line.
The Manipuri side were mixing it up with long balls and attacks down the flank which was a big test for the youngsters.
Odili and Subash Singh had half chances while India Arrows were not able to make their way into the attacking third until Rahim Ali nearly equalised.
The forward almost got on the end of a beautiful cutback from the right.
The cross beat the Neroca defence and Ali was storming down the left channel to reach the ball but his shot at near post went wide. It was the home side's best chance but the half ended 1-0 with Neroca leading.
With the introduction of Aniket Jadhav and Abhijit Sarkar at half-time, Arrows had sharpness up front. They were stretching the Neroca defence with Sarkar and Jadhav offering width to the team.
Arrows were passing the ball around and enjoying more possession. Meanwhile, Neroca looked to be playing the waiting game and hit on the counter. They were doing all the defensive work.
There was a late flurry from Indian Arrows but Neroca sealed victory with the last kick of the ball as Felix Odili struck five minutes into added time.
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