Indian Arrows earned their first victory of the I-League season with a defiant 1-0 win over Mohammedan Sporting at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday.
The All India Football Federation’s developmental side displayed heroic defending and goalkeeping after Gurpanthjeet Singh’s goal in the first half to hand Mohammedan SC their first defeat of the season.
Mohammedans started the game with high-intensity football, trying to press the Arrows for any mistakes. They created the first opening of the game in the fourth minute. However, Nikhil Kadam’s low cross from inside the area was well blocked by Amandeep Singh. Minutes later, Shilton D’Silva, himself a former Arrows cadet, came close to scoring the first goal, but his long-ranger went wide of the Arrows’ goal.
Mohammedans continued their attacking imposition, but they were unable to find their target as Faisal Ali’s swerved long-range effort went high over the Indian Arrows goal in the eighth minute. The Arrows settled into the game, and created a chance in the 12th minute as Vellington Fernandes’s cut back header from Gurkirat Singh’s cross was landed just behind Harsh Patre.
Mohammedans came inches from scoring in the 20th minute when John Chidi connected to Hira Mondal’s long throw, but his powerful header struck the post. Despite all their attacking pressure, Mohammedans lacked the finesse in front of goal.
The first goal finally came in the 26th minute, and it was the Arrows who struck the opener against the run of play. Gurkirat Singh’s freekick bounced right in front of the keeper, forcing a weak save from Shubham Roy. The ball looped in the air and the tall Gurpanthjeet Singh out-jumped the defenders to nod the ball over the line.
Shocked by the goal, Mohammedan went full-throttle on the Arrows. However, the latter were able to thwart them and break on the counter with Vellington Fernandes. Fuelled by a goal from the last game, the midfielder attempted an audacious lob from distance, trying to catch the Arrows goalkeeper out. However, his effort was wide of the target.
Venkatesh Shanmugan’s young team headed into the break with their lead intact.
Indian Arrows, aided by solid defending at the back, and a number of substitutions continued to hold Mohammedans out throughout the second half. Mohammedan SC kept pushing forward, and this created a gap in the back for the Arrows to exploit, with around 10 minutes to go.
Taison Singh’s early low cross pulled out the keeper of position, and reached Shreyas Ketkar, who was unable to hit the empty net from a very narrow-angle.
Surviving by the skin of their teeth, Mohammedan continued to attack the Indian Arrows goal and created another opening in the 89th minute. However, Sanjib Ghosh’s volley from Hira Mondal’s dinked shot did not have enough power and went straight into the hands of a grateful Ahaan Prakash.
Hira Mondal did not give up, and came again in the 92nd minute. But his shot from his weaker foot was safely handled by Arrows goalkeeper Ahaan Kumar. The Arrows had a couple of chances in injury time, but were unable to churn anything out of them, as they ran the clock out and secured their first victory of the season.