KATHMANDU, June 16: Defending champion Nepal Police Club restored its four-point lead at the top of the table on Thursday with an impressive 3-1 win over Samsung Jawalakhel Youth Club in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League Football Tournament at the Dasharath Stadium.
Bharat Khawas, Jumanu Rai and Parbat Pandey were on target for the departmental giant which also extended its unbeaten run to 12 matches in the league.
Following the result, Police with 10 wins and two draws has 32 points, four ahead of second-place Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC), which has a game in hand. MMC will take on Ranipokhari Corner Team (RCT) on Saturday.
"We succeeded to overcome a big obstacle in our way," Police coach Birat Krishna Shrestha said, adding, "Jawalakhel has always been a big threat to us. We were under pressure to win today and we also have the ability to play in pressure, so we are always No 1."
Jawalakhel remained unchanged in the third spot with 26 points from eight wins, two draws and two defeats.
Earlier, Mahindra Bansbari FC came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against Brigade Boys Club at the same venue. Both Bansbari and BBC remained unchanged in the 10th and 13th places with 16 and eight points respectively in the 18-team contest.
BBC took the lead in the 11th minute against surprise package Bansbari, which had defeated big names like Three Star and RCT in previous league matches. Bijaya Mahata opened the scoring from the six-yard box in a cross of Khagendra Khadka who seized the ball away from Bansbari defender Arnavd Vlrich Ke Nmoe.
Bansbari, despite dominating ball possession and making frequent attempts on goal, had to wait until the 77th minute to hit back the equalizer when Binod Lama Ghising scored from the box in Kabbu Rai´s pass.
In another match, Bharat Khawas put Police ahead in the 16th minute through a powerful strike from the six-yard box in goalie Dinesh Thapa´s rebounder off Jumanu Rai´s header. Rai had headed the ball in Bhola Silwal´s cross.
For the second goal, Rai made a brilliant display before unleashing a powerful shot from 22 yards. The goal also took highest scorer Rai´s goals tally to 16, two more than his second-placed teammate Bharat Khawas.
Prabin Karki pulled one back in the 74th minute to give some hope to the Jawalakhel fans. Karki hit a superb strike from outside the box beating an offside trap in a short pass from Bishal Rai (Jersey no 10) to stun diving Police custodian Ritesh Thapa.
But Jawalakhel´s hopes of hitting back the equalizer were dashed when Parbat Pandey scored two minutes from time through a freekick to seal the match 3-1 in favor of Police. Pandey´s right-flank shot entered the net to stun goalie Thapa, who failed to save the shot despite getting his hands on the ball.
Jawalakhel was unlucky on Thursday as scorer Karki and skipper Shrestha´s powerful shots hit the woodwork during the first half. Similarly, Police custodian Thapa denied Rai´s (Jersey No 10) powerful shot from outside the box five minutes after the break.
"It was a bad day for us," said Jawalakhel coach Kishor KC, "We conceded goals despite playing well. We conceded the last goal due to goalie Thapa´s mistake."
Meanwhile, the All Nepal Football Association has called off Friday´s league matches to be held between United Youth and Koilapani Polestar, and between MMC and RCT citing technical reasons. The matches will take place on Saturday, and all the matches thereafter will be held a day later than scheduled. In another decision, entry fee for Halchowk Ground has been raised to Rs 100 from Rs 50.