Late goals in each half fire Western Railways past Kenkre FC to make the last eight of the 108th Nadkarni Cup

Western Railways (WR) dished out an extremely professional performance as they beat Kenkre FC 2-0 to book a quarter final berth in the 108th Nadkarni Cup. Western Railways scored late goals in each half to seal their victory as it was an afternoon of very few chances at the RCF Sports Club ground.

It took just two minutes for Western Railways to create the first opening of the game, when Anil Pawar found Clayton D’souza in space behind the Kenkre defense, but the WR striker shot over. A couple of minutes later he was found again, this time by midfielder P.V. Ninot, but the keeper did well to snatch the ball off D’souza’s feet.

Western Railways were enjoying a good early spell of possession as they threatened again, this time from a set piece with WR’s Somi P.T heading just wide. Western Railways earned their first corner in the 12th minute, but the kick cleared everyone and the chance was gone.

Five minutes later Western Railways made a quick break with Ninot P.V passing to Anil Pawar who laid it off for skipper Avinash D. who was caught in two minds as to pass or shoot, but ended up doing neither. Couple of minutes later Kenkre had their first action of note, as midfielder Francisco Domnic surged ahead with the ball only to shoot wide.

The 25th minute saw Western Railways earn a free kick in a dangerous position but defender Vijesh Vijayan couldn’t get it past the wall. Couple of minutes later Rugved Yeole of Kenkre cut in from the flank and unleashed a shot, but unfortunately for him, it went straight into Lalit Parmar’s hands. Kenkre had srugged off a slow start and were now getting into the game, although either side had failed to create a clear cut opening and both the keepers had a fairly comfortable afternoon.

Western Railways were having more of the play as they churned out a series of set pieces which were ably dealt with by the Kenkre defence, who had put up a strong showing so far against the Inter-Railway Champions. Kenkre FC’s Arvind Rajan made a great run beating two defenders, but his attempt was blocked by the Western Railways’ defender. It was a good bit of play from the Kenkre No. 22.

Meanwhile at the other end, Clayton D’souza broke free of the Kenkre defence, but was superbly denied by Kenkre keeper Pramod Shankaran. With minutes left for the first half to end, Kenkre were enjoying their best spell of possession but without threatening Lalit Parmar’s goal.

But two minutes into first half stoppage time, the deadlock was broken, though slightly against the run of play by Western Railways as forward Anil Pawar did brilliantly to get past the full back before cutting back for midfielder Ninot P.V. whose shot was vitally deflected past the helpless Pramod Shankaran by Clayton D’souza to give Western Railways the half time advantage.

It was truly a poacher’s goal as Western Railways edged a fairly even half, thus deflating Kenkre FC whose first half efforts had gone in vain and they needed to pick themselves up for the second half.

Western Railways started the second half on the front foot dominating proceedings. But six minutes into the second half, the game saw its first yellow card as  Western Railway’s Somi P.T. was penalized for a reckless challenge on the Kenkre midfielder. Six minutes later Ninot P.V. turned brilliantly after beautifully controlling a long ball but his shot was straight at the keeper.

Two minutes past the hour mark, Kenkre had a decent chance when Arvind Rajan headed back a long ball but striker Yash Mhatre volleyed over. Kenkre made their first change in the 64th minute replacing Rugved Yeole with Faheem Fakhi. Kenkre were slowly growing into the game as their full back bombed forward and shot from a fair distance, but the shot was comfortably collected by Lalit Parmar. Very ambitious from the Kenkre left back.

Five minutes later, Kenkre a missed a golden opportunity to level the scores when, Yash Mhatre’s brilliant chip found two Kenkre FC players through on goal with the goal at their mercy, but Kenkre midfielder Francisco Domnic somehow managed to send his shot wide. The Kenkre bench could not believe that their team had failed to equalize. A massive let off for the Western Railways.

As the time was running out, Western Railways sat deeper and deeper trying to defend what they had, as Kenkre FC were putting some real pressure on the Western Railways defence. Kenkre FC made a double substitution with 13 minutes to play as Faizan Thange and Ruesh Venkatrana made way for Taha Kachwala and Derrick Joesph respectively.

Kenkre FC were seeing lots of the ball as some quick play drew a cynical foul from Linekar Machado of the Western railways who was rightly booked for the challenge. Kenkre FC though couldn’t make the free kick count.

With just 10 minutes and stoppage time left to play Western Railways were defending with a double line in front of goal, absorbing all the pressure, as they drew Kenkre FC forward who were desperately seeking an equalizing goal. As they drew forward, Kenkre FC left lot of open spaces for the Western Railways forwards to exploit.

Western Railways earned a free kick in the 88th minute, after their counter attack was put to an abrupt end by the Kenkre FC defender. Vijesh Vijayan stepped up and drilled a superb and powerful shot in the bottom corner to double Western Railways’ lead. It was an unstoppable free kick hit with immense precision and Pramod Shankaran had no chance.

The second goal completely knocked the stuffing out of Kenkre FC and opened the flood gates for Western Railways who almost made it 3-0 when M.K. Binoop’s close range effort was brilliantly saved by the Kenkre FC keeper. The pressure was now off and Western Railway players were expressing themselves more freely as the stoppage time ticked off.

After three minutes of stoppage time, referee blew for full time and Western Railways were through to the next round of the Nadkarni Cup.

It was a thorough professional display by the Inter-Railway Champions who brought their quality on show to see off a second half rally from Kenkre FC to progress to the last eight. Western Railways will face hosts Rashtriya Chemical Fertilizers in the Quarter Finals of the 108th Nadkarni Cup on 2nd December 2014.




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