Manang and Saraswoti won their important ties

KATHMANDU, June 23: Santosh Sahukhala scored the all-important goal in Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC)´s 1-0 win over Samsung Jawalakhel Youth Club at the Halchowk Ground on Thursday which kept the former neck to neck with leader Nepal Police Club in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division Football League.

Sahukhala scored the decider with a diving header from close range in the 61st minute after receiving a cross from Anil Gurung. The goal took Sahukhala´s goals tally in the league to 13, behind highest scorer Jumanu Rai (17) and Bharat Khawas (14) of Police.

Following the result, MMC with 34 points narrowed the gap on leader Police to one point after playing equal 13 matches.

Fourth-placed Jawalakhel, which could have climbed one spot had it defeated MMC, remained unchanged in the standings with 26 points. Three Star, with a match advantage, occupies the third place with 28 points.

"We are now out of contention for second position and will focus on third place," Jawalakhel coach Kishor KC said after the defeat. Unlike his counterparts, KC, however, lauded the referee, saying. "The referee fulfilled his duty properly."

In the competitive match, Jawalakhel was the better side before the interval and created more scoring opportunities than MMC but failed to convert them. However, MMC raised its game in the second half and put the opponent under pressure.

Jawalakhel nearly took the lead in the 33rd minute when Anatole Thierry headed the ball to safety to deny Bishal Rai (Jersey No 10) in an unattended post just ahead of the goalline. Rai had headed in a cross from Kenyan Gerrard Mukonza after MMC goalie Bishal Shrestha had dropped Mukonza´s shot far from the post. In the 18th minute too, custodian Shrestha had brilliantly blocked a volley strike from Mukonza.
Similarly, in the 11th and 13th minutes, Jawalakhel striker Shrestha and Rai narrowly missed the target when they hit inches wide. Likewise, Amar Subba header in Thomas´ free-kick went above the bar in the 67th minute.

MMC could only make two attempts on goal during the first half, and both went wide. Anil Gurung and skipper Tashi Tshering headed wide in the fifth and 37th minutes. In the 76th minute Jawalakhel goalie Dinesh Thapa made a brilliant save to block Sahukhala´s header.

MMC coach Lee Tae-Ho said that the victory was a result of the hard effort put in by his players. Commenting on Jawalakhel, he said, "The opponents played well but had problems in finishing."

Saraswoti thrashes Koilapani

In a one-sided match held later in the day, Tanzanian forward Yona Elias Mdabila scored four goals to steer Saraswoti Youth Club to its biggest victory in the league. The Koteshwar-based club hammered 10-man Koilapani Polestar of Nawalapasi 7-1.

With the four goals, Mdabila took his goal tally to eight and also became the fourth player after Jumanu Rai and Bharat Khawas of Police and Santosh Sahukhala of MMC to score four goals in a single league match.

Mdabila scored in the 12th, 24th, 48th and 61st minutes. The other goals for Saraswoti came from Dilen Loktan in the 42nd, Ramesh Tamang in the 50th and Saugat Khanal in the 73rd minutes respectively. Jangbu Sherpa scored a consolation goal for Koilapani in the 77th minute for his fifth league goal.

"Now we are almost sure to be relegated," Koilapani manager Tara Prasad Bhusal said after his side dropped one spot to the bottom of the table with three points.

The victory, on the other hand, was a great relief for Saraswoti assistant coach Pradip Nepal whose side progressed one step to 13th in the standings with 11 points. "If we could only gain four points from the remaining four matches we would avoid relegation," Nepal said.

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