Hosts RCF derail Western Railways to make the Nadkarni Cup Semis

Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers (RCF) came from behind to register a narrow 2-1 win over Inter-Railways Champions Western Railways in the third quarter final match, played at the RCF Sports Club and in process, booking a place in the Semi Finals of the 108th Nadkarni Cup.

RCF were enjoying home advantage as they got quite a lot of support from their fans gathered at RCF Sports Club. But on the field, it was an even battle with few chances for either side in the first quarter of the game as no side was able to get a clear spell of dominance.

But the deadlock was broken in the 29th minute when Linekar Machado fired Western Railways into the lead much to the displeasure of the gathered home support. The goal seemed to wake RCF up as there was a distinct urgency in their game after going behind.

RCF got stronger as the half time whistle approached, putting pressure on the Western Railways backline drawing a series of corners. Western Railways defence finally gave way in third minute of first half stoppage time when Ubaid Ansari’s brilliant through ball found Raju Meetei who showed great composure to beat the goalkeeper and finish to level the scores.

That was the last action of the first half and the scoreline was a fair reflection of the half.

Second half started with Western Railways on the front foot when Somi P.T played in Anil Pawar whose shot needed intervention and it came from the RCF defender. Six minutes later RCF keeper Narendra was forced into action by Anil Pawar through a well taken free kick which threatened to go in at the far post looping over the keeper’s head.

As RCF got through the initial hick ups, the game entered a lean period wherein neither side looked like scoring and hardly threatened as the tournament’s first penalty shoot out was looking likely.

RCF made their first substitution as they brought on Maimilungboy who replaced Ashish Pawaskar in the 77th minute, and the substitute made an instant impact who broke free of the Western Railways defence only to shoot wide. Great work by the youngster to create the opening, but it should have been put away as the way the game was going, there weren’t going to be a lot of chances to grab the winner.

A minute later Anil Pawar does well again to earn a free kick for the Western Railways, but he shot over. Four minutes later RCF’s Raju Meetei brilliantly controlled a long ball, cut in and force a top save from the Western Railways keeper. Good play from the RCF scorer.

Maimilungboy’s arrival had blown much needed energy into hosts RCF as they were seeing more of the ball and threatening a lot more than before. Striker Raju Meetei came close a minute from time when his long range effort went wide of the goal.

But in the dying seconds of regulation time at the end of the second half, Ubaid Anasari’s cracking half volley flew past Nisarullah Khan to send the home fans into delirium. It was an emphatic display of technique from RCF’s No. 20 as his goal was worthy of winning any game and could easily be the goal of the tournament so far.

RCF held on for the remaining two stoppage time minutes as they got through to the semi-finals of the 108th Nadkarni Cup. RCF edged what was a tight game but their superior finishing got them over the line.

RCF will face winners of Companerose and ONGC in the semi final on 3rd December.

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