Striker-turned-goalkeeper Neal shines for St Xavier's

Nov 01, 2018, 09:27 IST | Gordon D'Costa

First Hanzala converted a penalty in the 34th minute and five minutes later scored with a long shot to help Christ Church draw level and force the tie-breaker

Striker-turned-goalkeeper Neal shines for St Xavier's
St Xavier's (Fort) goalkeeper Neal Belnekar makes a save during the U-14 Utpal Sanghvi match at Azad Maidan yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Skipper Neal Belnekar, 13, played an inspirational role in helping St Xavier's (Fort) overcome Christ Church (Byculla) 6-3 via the tie-breaker in a tense and absorbing first round match of the Mumbai Schools Sports Association-organised boys' U-14 Div-II Utpal Sanghvi inter-school knockout football tournament, at Azad Maidan yesterday. The game ended in a 2-all draw at the end of regulation time.

Neal, basically a right winger, was utilised as a stopper back and he did an excellent job. Neal demonstrated his versatility as he played confidently and showed excellent anticipation to make some timely tackles and thwart the rival attackers. In the crucial tie-breaker, Neal replaced Yash Raut under the bar and once again came out with flying colours. Christ Church's managed to score just one through Syedali Kadri in the tie-breaker. For St Xavier's, Sarthak Khair, Harsh Narkar, Umaid Attar and Sam David scored from the penalty spot to seal the win. "During our training sessions I practise goalkeeping and tie-breaker and penalty situations. That helped me to make the first save today," Neal said.

After an unproductive first session, St Xavier's scored twice through Sarthak, who converted a penalty in the sixth minute of the second half. Four minutes later, Harsh Narkar scored the second with a measured chip to give his school a 2-0 advantage. However, Christ Church came roaring back with two quick goals by Hanzala Kapadia in a span of five minutes. First Hanzala converted a penalty in the 34th minute and five minutes later scored with a long shot to help Christ Church draw level and force the tie-breaker.

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