Runaway leaders Nepal APF Club edged past fellow departmental side Nepal Police Club 2-1 and restored five-point lead in the Women's National League here at the ANFA Complex grounds today.

Substitute Rabina Gole netted the winning goal after Amrita Jaisi had levelled the scores for NPC. APF had earlier taken the lead with an own goal from NPC skipper Ghim Kumari Gurung. With their 10th consecutive win, APF accumulated 30 points and they are five points ahead of Tribhuvan Army Football Club with two matches remaining.

NPC remained at fifth position on 14 points.

After a goalless first half, APF opened the scoring, thanks to an own goal from NPC skipper Gurung, who directed the ball towards her own nets while trying to block a cross from substitute Susmita Tamang in the 69th minute.

APF received a major blow in their campaign when star striker Sabitra Bhandari was stretchered off three minutes later after she collided with NPC custodian Nath while reaching to a long pass.

Bhandari did meet the ball and shot over the head of advancing Nath but she could not stop her from the collision that saw her fall on the ground with pain on her face.

NPC levelled the scores in the 75th minute at a time when Bhandari was receiving treatment. Amrita Jaisi scored the equaliser with a perfectly taken shot from the edge of the box that left APF goalkeeper Anjla Tumbapo Subba stranded. Subba, who had kept clean sheet in the previous nine matches, conceded for the first time in the tournament.

Gole, who replaced Bhandari in the 79th minute, restored APF's lead four minutes before the end when she slammed home from tight angle following a pass from fellow substitute Anu Lama, who was able to dodge a host of NPC defenders with a through pass.

APF extended the winning streak to 10 matches but the team suffered a setback after Bhandari injured her knee and remained doubtful for the last two matches. APF can win the title with a win over Biratnagar Metropolitan City on Wednesday and they will face TAFC in the last match.

According to physio Nabina Vaidhya, the striker had MRI this evening and that the actual injury would be confirmed once we receive the reports by Tuesday. "We suspect a tear on Anterior Cruciate Ligament tissue. As her conditions were stable, Bhandari was discharged from hospital in the evening," said Vaidhya.

In another match, Biratnagar defeated Waling Municipality 1-0. Asha Kumari scored the solitary goal of the match in the 35th minute when she converted a free kick into a goal. Biratnagar climbed to third place with 16 points, while Waling remained at fourth on 14 points.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 16, 2021, of The Himalayan Times