Police opens four-point lead

KATHMANDU, June 13: Defending champion Nepal Police Club opened a four-point lead at the top of the points table on Monday with a 3-0 victory over Friends Club in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League Football Tournament at the Dasharath Stadium.

Bhola Silwal, Jumanu Rai and Bharat Khawas scored one each as Police extended its unbeaten run to 11 matches in the league. With the result Police has 29 points in its kitty from nine wins and two draws. 

Police is four points ahead of second-place Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) but the latter has a match advantage over the departmental giant. Friends dropped one place to 11th in the table with 14 points.

Earlier, Koilapani Polestar, the only team from outside the capital, missed the chance to earn its first victory in the league. Koilapani had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Brigade Boys Club (BBC) after it squandered a one-goal lead in the last minute of the match. With the draw, Koilapani progressed one place with two points to push United Youth to the bottom of the table. BBC also climbed one step to 13th with nine points.

At the Halchowk ground, Mahindra Bansbari FC came from behind to beat Bauddha FC 3-1. Despite the result, Bauddha remained unchanged in the eighth place with 18 points while Bansbari moved a step ahead to occupy the 10th spot with 15 points.

Bhola Silwal put Police ahead in the 17th minute from close range when he gave a back-heel finishing touch to a free-kick taken by Rabin Shrestha from the right flank. The second goal came in the 69th minute through the league´s highest scorer Jumanu Rai, who took his goals tally to 15. Rai doubled the advantage in a header pass from Suman Subedi, in a free-kick taken by Yogesh Shrestha.

Bharat Khawas sealed the win in the 74th minute taking advantage of a lack of coordination between Friends custodian Sagar Gurung and Prem Ghimire when the ball deflected from custodian Gurung. Khawas directed the ball toward the net from close range.

Khawas has now scored 13 goals, two more than Santosh Sahukhala of MMC, the third highest scorer.

Friends´ attempt to score went in vain as the stubborn defending line-up of Police and goalie Ritesh Thapa denied it. 

Friends coach Paras Chaudhary strongly expressed his discontent with referee Bikash Mahat´s decision who has frequently been dragged into controversy.

"The assistant referee had signaled a throw, but the referee gave a free-kick," coach Chaudhary vented his ire on the referee for his decision to award the free-kick that eventually led to Police´s second goal. "The boys´ morale was down after conceding the second goal and they lost their rhythm," Chaudhary added.

Earlier, Jangbu Shrestha put Koilapani ahead in the 60th minute when he hit a brilliant half-volley strike from the inner line of the box after receiving a pass from skipper Sajan Shrestha.

However, Devi Mani Gautam hit back the equalizer in the 90th minute through a header from just ahead of the goalline in a pass of Charles Rai.

Koilapani put up an improved show and dominated the match in terms of ball possession. They created as many as four other scoring chances. During the last minute of stoppage time, skipper Shrestha failed to beat the goalie in a one-on-one situation. In the first half too, Shrestha squandered a couple of scoring opportunities. 

At the Halchowk ground, Bauddha took an early 11th minute lead through Eugene Gray but failed to hold on to it. Danish Ovko Ochieng scored the equalizer for Bansbari five minutes before the break and Sujan Limbu hit the second goal two minutes into the second half. Nabin Lama sealed victory for Bansbari with a goal in the 85th minute.

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