KATHMANDU, May 31: Himalayan Sherpa Club held defending champion Nepal Police Club to a goalless draw, ending the departmental giant´s winning run, while Saraswoti Club came from behind to defeat United Youth Club 3-1 for its first victory in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League Football at the Dasharath Stadium on Tuesday.
After Tuesday´s matches, four teams share the lead at the top of the table with 16 points each after the completion of the sixth round. However, Police still occupies the top spot on the basis of goals superiority. A victory would have given Police a two-point lead at the top.
Following the draw against Police, Sherpa also continued its unbeaten streak and remained unchanged in the fifth spot with 14 points.
In the high-profile first encounter between the departmental team and the top flight debutant in the league, Police outclassed Sherpa from the beginning in terms of performance and made some attractive moves. However, it could not find the back of the net on any occasion. Most of Police´s attempts ended in the hands of Sherpa custodian Rupak Shrestha. Sherpa defenders also foiled a couple of attempts by Police.
“Judging by the performance, I feel my side was lucky not to lose. Our ball possession was almost zero, and we were under pressure even before the kickoff as we were playing against the defending champion,” Sherpa coach Upendraman Singh said. Sherpa was without its regular skipper Sagar Thapa as he was slapped with his second yellow card in the previous match against Mahindra Bansbari Club.
Police had the first real opportunity in the 14th minute, but Yogesh Shrestha´s shot went inches wide off the post after taking a deflection off an opponent defender. In the 23rd minute, Shrestha´s strike in a pass of Jumanu Rai was punched to safety by Sherpa goalie Shrestha. Rai had fed the ball to Bharat Khawas, but Khawas failed to connect to it just in front of the post.
Police nearly took the lead ten minutes after the interval, but Sherpa´s African recruit Samuel Mobiru foiled Police´s attempts twice, first by Bhola Silwal and then by Khawas on the rebound. Police´s last remarkable move came four minutes from time, but goalie Shrestha easily collected Shrestha´s strike.
Sherpa had one opportunity to score, but Tanzanian midfielder Castory D Mumbara could not meet Nabin Neupane´s cross just ahead of the box.
Police coach Birat Krishna Shrestha, who had targeted a win, said his side had to settle for a draw after the boys failed to utilize scoring opportunities. “The team´s strategy was to not give the opponents chance to play and we succeeded in it,” Shrestha said.
In the day´s early kick off, newly-promoted Saraswoti Youth Club came from a goal down to earn its first victory over fellow relegation battler United Youth Club and jump to the 13th position from 16th with four points. United remains unchanged in the 17th spot with one point.
Dilen Loktan hit the equalizer eight minutes into the second half after Bijay Shahi had given United the lead one minute before the interval. Loktan brilliantly made a quick attempt from the box to send the ball past the net in a pass from Subin Ghimire. Earlier, Shahi had put United ahead with a powerful 25-yard shot.
Tashi Lama scored the second goal, stealing the ball from goalie Ajay Maharjan after defender Raj Krishna Prajapati failed to clear an easy shot. The third goal for Saraswoti came from Tanzanian striker Yona Elias Mdabila, who chipped the ball over Prajapati while the goalie was not in his proper position.
Saraswoti´s assistant coach Pradip Nepal said that the three points were necessary for his team to improve hopes of avoiding relegation. “The team still needs to set properly,” he said.
United coach Roshan Dangol said relegation threat had increased following the defeat. “We could not repeat our first-half performance in the second half and faced defeat,” Dangol said.
Three matches from Wednesday
Adding one more match in each day´s schedule, three matches will be held per day from Wednesday in the ongoing Martyrs Memorial A Division League. The third match will be held at Halchowk ground while as on previous occasion two other matches will take place at the Dasharath Stadium. Ranipokhari Corner Team will take Bansbari FC in the first match to be played at Halchowk on Wednesday. The ANFA on Tuesday has released a new schedule from 7th to 11th round which has fixed one match each day at Halchowk until June 15.