Manipur Police, Sethu FC to clash in IWL final

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Ludhiana, May 20 (IANS) Manipur Police made their way to the Indian Women’s League (IWL) final after a thrilling performance that saw them beat Gokulam Kerala FC 4-2 despite being one player down in the second half at the Guru Nanak Stadium, here on Monday.

They will meet Sethu FC in the final.

Bala Devi was again the star of the show as she netted all the four goals for Manipur Police and helped the team stage a come back from being 1-2 down.

Manipur Police went on the offensive early on and started creating a lot of chances. Unlike their previous game, they started with a 4-4-2 formation with Bala Devi and Daya Devi operating upfront. Bala dropped deep to add more numbers to the Manipur midfield and fed the balls to Daya.

It was one of those moves that got Manipur their goal on the quarter-hour mark. Daya played into the box via an aerial through ball, but was fouled by Gokulam centreback Poli Koley. It got them a penalty and Bala Devi converted the opportunity into goal.

Gokulam were having some trouble to get their attacks going, as Manipur made a concerted effort to crowd out Manisha, who was playing the attacking midfield. Then they made a couple of tactical changes, which turned things in their favour.

Soon after, Gokulam gaffer pushed Manisha up front, while Anju Tamang played in the hole behind her. They finally got their equaliser through a corner, as Bina Devi turned it into her own net from a melee.

In the second half, Gokulam made early initiatives, and Anju Tamang penetrated the Manipur box and fired a shot that was blocked off the line. But it had struck Romi Devi’s hand and she was subsequently sent off the field in the 47th minute. Ranjana Chanu converted the penalty to put Gokulam in front for the first time.

Manipur, however, did not lie low, despite being one player down. They pressed forward, and earned another foul inside the opposition box, which gave them another penalty. Bala Devi duly converted it to equalise the score.

A minute later, it was a bit of individual brilliance that did the magic for Manipur, as Bala turned fullback Linthoi inside-out, and fired a left-footer into the bottom corner.

Meanwhile, Sethu FC produced a brilliant performance against a hapless SSB Women FC, as the Tamil Nadu based side engineered a 8-1 victory.

Sabitra Bhandari netted four goals to take her tournament tally to 13 from six appearances. But it was Dangmei Grace, who stole the show with her scintillating display from the right wing. She scored a hat-trick and made a couple of assists and claimed the Player of the Match Award.

–IANS

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