Table Toppers misfire in Cooperage cracker

Mumbai FC and Pune FC played out an entertaining 0-0 draw in the top of the table clash of the Maharashtra zone of the U-15 Youth League at Cooperage on Sunday evening. There were plenty of chances for both teams to win it, but in the end neither could profit from it.

Mumbai FC walked out on the Cooperage pitch locked on points with Pune FC at the top of the Maharashtra zone of the U-15 Youth League and with a clean defensive record as the Mumbaikars were yet to be breached in the competition.

However that almost changed within the first five minutes of the game as Shreepad Dogre sent Gulam Ansari through on goal in the 5th minute but Ansari’s heavy touch past the Mumbai FC goalkeeper saw the ball roll out of play.

The visitors looked more confident in the opening exchanges and stroked the ball smoothly. Mumbai FC were slightly jittery to start with as Pune FC took the initiative in the game.

Holding a high defensive line, Mumbai FC were trying to catch the Pune FC strikers offside. A tactic which looked dangerous to start with was well executed by the efficient Mumbai FC defence as Pune FC strikers fell to their trap time and time again as the offside count rose meteorically for the visitors.

The frustrated Pune FC players lost control of the game as Mumbai FC got on top in the game. Mumbai FC’s star forward Kamran Ansari made a breathtaking run on Mumbai FC’s left side to set up midfielder Sameer Kashyap whose grounded shot went inches wide of the target in the 36th minute.

Pune FC were very close to snatching the lead in the first minute of first half stoppage time when Mozaffar Ali’s lobbed effort over the Mumbai FC goalkeeper who had come off his line nestled the side netting.

It was goalless at the break and there was no separating the two top teams in the group.

Mumbai FC started the second half on the front foot but it was the visitors who carved out the first opening of the second half in the 55th minute, as Aryan Tithe’s shot from Mozaffar Ali’s clever cut back was palmed away by Harshal Tandel to safety.

The second half had an excellent tempo to it as chances came thick and fast at both ends. In the 60th minute, Kamran Ansari had a great chance to put Mumbai FC into the lead when he was slid through on goal, but was stopped in his tracks by a brilliant tackling save by the Pune FC goalkeeper Muzaffar Aliyambarth.

Few minutes later it was the turn of Harshal Tandel to save his team when he nicked a cross under the nose of the Pune FC striker who was about to head home a cross from the right flank.

Mumbai FC were yet to concede a goal in the competition and they once again showed why as Ankit Saxena arrived from nowhere to clear  Shreepad Dorge’s shot off the goal line as he kept his side on level terms with twenty minutes to play.

A minute later at the other end, Akash Rathod blasted his shot over from inside the box as the game somehow remained goalless.

The visitors looked to have more in their tanks in the last ten minutes as they enjoyed greater of the ball, but were kept on their tose by the threat posed by Kamran Ansari upfront who threatened to hurt them at every little opportunity that fell his way.

Both teams weren’t ready to surrender even an inch to each other as the intensity never dropped till the final whistle as Pune FC cleared a Mumbai FC header off the line in stoppage time.

Both teams deserved to win, but neither deserved to lose and perhaps a draw was the ideal outcome of the game as referee’s whistle confirmed the share of spoils.

The draw kept Pune FC top of the Maharashtra zone charts thanks to a superior goal difference, but the way the two teams played today indicated that it will go right down to the wire to decide who ends up as the top dog in Maharashtran .

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