PICTURE COURTESY: REPUBLICA
KATHMANDU, June 7: A second-half penalty goal sealed a 1-0 victory for Mega Three Star Club over Bauddha Football Club in a tense match of the Martyrs Memorial A Division Football League at the Dasharath Stadium on Tuesday, while defending champion Nepal Police Club was held to a goalless draw by Armed Police Force. At the Halchowk ground, New Road Team (NRT) beat Koilapani Polestar of Nawalparasi 3-0.
Anil Ojha made no mistake to put his side ahead after referee Bikash Mahat decided to award a penalty to Three Star eight minutes from the time. Mahat awarded the penalty after Rajkumar Ghising was brought down in the box while Steven Veron of Bauddha was vying for the ball.
The situation turned tense after Bauddha fans protesting the referee´s decision threw water bottles and other objects into the ground, and the game was halted for six minutes. However, police personnel deputed at the stadium were able to take the situation under control without using force.
After the completion of the match, some of the Bauddha players went to the open stands in an aggressive manner after they were abused by Three Star fans while going to the changing room.
Four Bauddha players were given yellow cards. Three of them -- Mamboo, Steven Veron and Uttam Gurung -- will miss the upcoming match against Koilapani as they received second yellow cards.
Bauddha captain Rajesh Shahi, who has missed the last four matches due to fractured hand and will still be out of the team for about a month, slammed the referee´s decision of awarding the penalty.
"The referee had not seen what exactly had happened. He was behind the players, so how can he award the penalty in such a situation when the match is 50-50?" Shahi questioned during the post match conference, adding, "Such decision would demoralize the club to make investment in football."
Shahi also said that his side has formally lodged a complaint against the referee´s decision at the ANFA. Lauding his side´s performance, Shahi said. "The boys played well against a good opponent like Three Star."
Three Star coach Meghraj KC said that his side deserved the penalty as Ghising was clearly fouled in the box.
During the first half of the match, Bauddha enjoyed more ball possession but failed to create any attractive moves. However, it was a different story after the interval as Three Star made three attempts on goal.
With the result, Three Star also achieved its fourth win in a row with identical score. Three Star has now moved to fifth spot from sixth with equal 19 points as that of second, third and fourth place Manang Marshyangdi, Jawalakhel and NRT, and four points behind leader Police.
NRT climbed three spots, while Bauddha remained unchanged in the eighth place with nine points. APF rose two spots to 10th with ten points. Koilapani is at the bottom of the table with only one point.
Earlier, in an entertaining and fast-paced match between two departmental teams, Police nearly opening the scoring in the 58th minute when it was awarded a penalty for defender Sudeep Shrestha´s foul on Jumanu Rai in the box. But goalie Samitraj Bhandari brilliantly denied Rai´s spotkick.
Custodian Bhandari also made two other heroic saves to snatch a point from the departmental rivals. In the 50th minute, he denied Bharat Khawas in a one-on-one situation. Similarly, Bhola Silwal´s header in the 72nd minute sailed above the bar and Ramesh Katuwal´s free header early in the 20th minute was out of frame.
APF, despite putting up a well-managed show, failed to make a single attempt on goal.
At the Halchowk ground, NRT scored twice in the space of two minutes to make the misery of bottom-place Koilapani worse. Roshan Lamichhane put NRT ahead in the 20th minute while Aaron Blackie Cole doubled the advantage two minutes later. The last goal came in the 74th minute from Rajiv Gurung.