Bharat Petroleum down Namdhari in first semi-final league match
Mumbai, Apr 24 (UNI) Irshad Ali turned out to be the hero for Bharat Petroleum setting up both the goals as his team scored a hard fought win over Namdhari XI 2-1 in the first semi-final league match of the 44th Bombay Gold Cup hockey tournament here today.
Bharat Petroleum, with this win, collected three points, while Namdhari XI were without points.
Army XI and defending champions Western Railway are the other two teams in the semi-final league. The league will see all the four teams play each other once and the two teams with the highest points would clash in the final.
It was Bharat Petroleum who settled down quickly, and as early as the third minute following good spadework done by Irshad Ali down the left flank saw him pass the ball to former India international Sabu Varkey who, with a powerful shot, sounded the boards to put his side in the lead 1-0.
Bharat Petroleum kept up the pressure and forced two penalty corners in the 13th and 16th minutes, but both the times they were unlucky to be denied a chance to increase their lead. On the first penalty corner, Lenn Aiyappa's drag flick beat everyone but unluckily hit the top post and went out of harm's way, while on his second drag flick goalkeeper Swinder Singh brought off a great save.
Namdhari XI then slowly tried to claw their way back into the match and should have equalised in the 30th minute when Gurcharan Singh got a loose ball near the penalty box. But his reverse hit missed the mark by a whisker.
Bharat Petroleum began the second half as they did the first with Irshad Ali putting Hari Prasad through for the latter to just tap the ball into the goal and go up 2-0 in the 41st minute.
Namdhari XI, however, seemed to have come alive after these two reverses and started attacking the rival citadel several times. After their first two penalty corners in the first half did not yield any goals, the namdharis forced two more penalty corners and with eight minutes remaining Gurpreet Singh scored with a drag flick off their fourth penalty corner.
Three minutes later, Namdhari XI should have equalised but Joga Singh, having only the goal keeper to beat, delayed taking his shot and then shot wide to let go of a golden opportunity to get one point from the match.
UNI GS KU PDS KP2008