KATHMANDU, July 5: Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) received a major jolt in its title bid Tuesday as it was held to a 1-1 draw by New Road Team (NRT) in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull A Division League Football Tournament at the Dasharath Stadium.
Following the draw, second place MMC squandered a chance of going to the top of the table at least for a day. MMC after playing a match more than leader Nepal Police Club, which takes on Nepal Army Club on Wednesday, leveled points with the leader but resides unchanged in the second place.
NRT dropped one spot in the points´ table for fifth place with 28 points after Samsung Jawalakhel Youth Club beat Bauddha FC 3-1 at the Halchowk ground to come in third with 29 points.
The result also halted MMC´s six-match winning streak. Santosh Sahukhala had put the star-studded MMC consisting of nine national players ahead in the 12th minute through spotkick. MMC got the penalty after Sahukhala was fouled by goalie Binaya Shrestha in the six-yard box in one-on-one position while he was sprinting with the ball.
The goal also became 14th league goal for Sahukhala who leveled goal scoring tally with Bharat Khawas of Police, the second highest goal scorer. Jumanu Rai of same departmental team leads the scorers´ list with 17 goals.
Ashim Jung Karki got back the equalizer in the 35th minute when his brilliant freekick from the edge of box entered the net hitting the inner edge of the bar to stun national goalie Bisha Shrestha. NRT was awarded with the free-kick after skipper Roshan Lamichhhane was taken down by national defender Sandeep Rai.
In the muddy pitch marred by rainfall, stagnant water and slippery grass impacted the balance of ball and players. The players at the end of the match looked as if they have returned from the field after transplanting paddy.
The ball possession seemed balanced in the first-half and with both team making a couple of attacks on post. In the 22nd minute, Deepak Busal´s powerful 30-yard shot for MMC was denied by goalie Binay. Two minutes before the interval, NRT´s Sushil KC´s well placed shot from the box was denied by MMC glovesman Bishal with a full stretch dive.
But in the second half, MMC dominated the show and frequently took the ball to the danger area. However, the uneven bounce, some brilliant saves by goalie, off the target shot by MMC players denied them from earning full three points.
In the 51st minute, Shiva Shrestha´s header for MMC went inches wide while a moment earlier, Nirajan Khadka´s left flank shot was blocked by goalie. Anil Gurung´s last minute strike from the box went inches wide from the pole. Striker Gurung will miss the upcoming match as he was booked with the second yellow card of league on Tuesday.
NRT coach Rajukaji Shakya lauded his players performance. "The boys put great effort and we achieved out target. Our target was to either win or share point," Shakya said.
Jawalakhel move to third
Samsung Jawalakhel Youth Club moved to the third spot in the points table from fifth with a 3-1 win over Bauddha FC with only three matches to spare. Karna Limbu emerged hero for the Jawalakhel as he netted twice including an early and a fading moment goals. With the twins, Limbu took his goals tally to eight.
Jawalakhel got other goal as the gift as Man Bahadur Tamang hit an own goal in the 36th minute in a bid to clear Bishal Rai´s (Jersey no 9) corner.
Limbu put Jawalakhel ahead in the seventh minute from short distance in a spectacular one-touch pass from Kenyan recruit Gerard Mukonza who was also the creator for the last goal. Limbu made a powerful shot from the edge of box in the third minute of stoppage time to seal the victory.
Eugene Gray scored the only goal for Bauddha in the half-an-hour mark after he handed Binod Gurung´s shot in the box.
The result left Bauddha unchanged in the ninth place with 20 points after playing 14 matches out of 17 in the league.
Himalaya Sherpa thrashes Saraswoti
National player Jagjeet Shrestha inspired Yeti Airlines Himalayan Sherpa Club to a 4-0 haul over minnow Saraswoti Youth Club in the day´s kick-off at the Dasharath Stadium.
Shrestha set momentum for three goals including a penalty. Taking the match under control from the beginning, Nabin Neupane opened score in the 15th minute when he hit the ball in an open net while goalie was advancing ahead in a pass of Shrestha.
Saraswoti´s Pakistani defender Mohomad hit an own goal in the 38th minute in his effort to clear a free-kick of skipper Sagat Thapa, also the national team skipper. Pukar Gahatraj netted the third through penalty after Shrestha was fouled by Mohomad. Substitute Dinesh Karki made a free header to score the last goal in a cross of Shrestha in the 58th minute, a minute after his entry. He had come as a replacement of Rupesh KC.
Despite the victory, Sherpa remained unchanged in the sixth place with 26 points while Saraswoti also remained constant in the 13th place with 11 points.