KATHMANDU, June 15: Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) narrowed the gap to one point against leader Nepal Police Club with a nervy 1-0 win over top flight debutant Swayambhu Club on Wednesday in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League at the Dasharath Stadim.
Santosh Sahukhala scored the lone goal for MMC in the ninth minute to score his 12th league goal, three goals short of highest goal scorer Jumanu Rai of Police and one behind Bharat Khawas of the same departmental team.
Sahukhala directed the ball towards net near from the goalline in skipper Tashi Tsering´s head rebounder from the pole off Ganesh Khadka´s cross which became sufficient to lift the team to second position from third.
After the completion of round 11, MMC, which pushed Jawalakhel to third, has 28 points with nine wins, a defeat and a draw. Jawalakhel has two points less than MMC. Swayambhu is in the 16th place with three points.
At the Halchowk ground, Pradip Maharjan who came as replacement of Bishnu Gurung in the beginning of second half netted twice in Three Star´s 4-0 win over minnows United Youth Club. This is the second appearance of Maharjan in the league after featuring for initial 21 minutes against Bauddha FC on June 7. With the win, sixth in a row, Three Star progressed one step ahead to fourth with 25 points while United lies at the bottom of the table with only one point. Earlier, at the kickoff match at Dasharath Stadium, Machhindra shared points against Armed Police Force (APF) with 1-1 draw.
However, the result could not replace Machhindra from the relegation line, which has six points in its kitty. Similarly, APF remained unchanged in the 12th place with 11 points. In the dull affair, Machhindra studded with four African enjoyed dominating ball possessions but had to wait until 64th minute against APF to find the back of the net. Ujen Lama put Machhindra ahead when he got a free header in Pukar Ale´s corner. But, Machhindra´s dream of achieving second league victory received a jolt when APF striker Ganesh Lawati hit back as equalizer in the 75th minute from a short distance on Amir Shrestha´s pass.
In another match, star studded MMC, despite controlling the match from the beginning, repeated the clinical problem of poor finishing. MMC created more than half a dozen attractive chances but African goalie Emmanual of Swayambhu made few brilliant saves and the misfiring players failed to hit the target. The Korean coach of MMC Lee Tae-Ho tested young players Sulav Maskey and Sameer Limbu replacing skipper Tsering and Sujal Shrestha during the first half.
Swayambu coach Bikram Lama said, “Now we need to win matches to avoid relegation and we are also planning to field two foreign players in our squad.” MMC coach Tae-Ho was not available in the post match conference.
At the Halchowk, Buddha Chemjong gave an early lead to Three Star in the 10th minute while Bikash Singh Chhetri doubled the tally in the 26th minute against United. Pradip Maharjan, the replacement of Bishnu Gurung netted twice in the 48th and 60th minute respectively. Three Star also missed a scoring chance when Three Star´s custodian Kiran Chemjong hit spotkick above the bar in the 69th minute. Three Star was awarded with the penalty after goalie Ajay Maharjan took down Buddha in one-on-one position at the box.
Meanwhile, only two matches of the league will be held every day from Thursday. The first match will begin at 13:00 NST and the second at 16:00 NST. Both the matches will take place at Halchowk Ground.