- Published on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 15:57
All three matches of the Red Bull National League on Monday ended with draws with high flying Jhapa XI FC playing 1-1 stalemate with Far Western Football Club (FWFC) and star-studded Three Star Club and Nepal Police Club settling for 2-2 draw at separate venues.
Jhapa, which earned only two points from three matches since the league resumed on September 14, came from behind to reclaim the top spot by one point at its home ground in Jhapa. After playing 11 matches, Jhapa has 18 points, one point ahead of second-placed Tribhuvan Army Club and two ahead of third-place Three Star Club, with both teams having two-match advantage over the leader. FWFC climbed two spots to fourth with 14 points from 11 matches.
At the ANFA ground Stadobato, Three Star squandered its lead twice. It could have moved atop the standings with victory over injury-plagued departmental opponent. But the result left the Patan-based team in third position and Police on seventh position with nine points. Both Three Star and Police have played nine matches each.
Meanwhile, Laxman Ruchal salvaged a draw for visiting Lumbini FC during a 1-1 stalemate against Morang FC at Laxmi Marga, Morang in the contest of the bottom two teams. Lumbini, with eight points, sits second from the bottom, two points ahead of Morang, after playing equal 11 matches each. Laxman netted in the 83rd minute to cancel Sumit Khadka's 51st minute lead for Morang.
Three Star and Nepali national team skipper Sagar Thapa put the Patan-based team ahead in the 37th minute in the match marred by refereeing controversy. Sagar's 35-yard low drive left Police goalie Ritesh Thapa, still nursing an injury, motionless as it entered the back of the net.
Police skipper Jumanu Rai leveled the score five minutes later capitalizing on a defensive error of Bishnu Sunwar sending the ball past inattentive goalie Kiran Chemjong. Bishnu was sent off in the 83rd minute for a second yellow card.
The heroic save of Police custodian Ritesh in the 63rd minute prevented Three Star from scoring second goal. Ritesh also denied three consecutive attempts from Bijay Gurung, Nirajan Khadka and Jagjeet Shrestha.
Three Star restored the lead in the 69th through a controversial penalty after Santosh Sahukhala, a second-half replacement of Olawala Afeez, stumbled while vying for the ball with goalie Ritesh inside the zone. Referee Bikash Mahat decided to award penalty which prompted Police players to protest the decision. However, referee Mahat remained firm on his decision after discussion with the fourth official Sudish Pandey.
Substitute Yogesh Shrestha restored parity for Police in the 83rd when he collected Jumanu's penalty which rebounded after smashing the bar and Three Star players failed to clear in properly.
Three Star coach Rajendra Tamang said that defensive errors cost two vital points for his team. His counterpart Birat Krishna Shrestha of Police revealed that he was forced to field injured goalie Ritesh due to poor performance of second-choice goalkeeper in the last match.
At the Domalal Stadium, Jhapa, Bishal Rai netted equalizer in the 75th to cancel FWFC's 65th minute lead taken through Shiva Subedi. Backed by huge home supporters, Jhapa dominated ball possession and created as many as a dozen scoring chances. But the home team failed to achieve the target against the opponent studded with eight players of the U-19 team, which was crowned the champions of recently held SAFF U-19 Championship. U-19 skipper Bimal Gharti Magar also plays for FWFC.
Jhapa coach Bhagirath Ale said that his team failed to achieve all three points due to lack of proper coordination among players.
There won't be any match of the league on Tuesday and Wednesday.content/photo: republica