Friends extend winning run; NPC pip NRT

KATHMANDU: Nepal Police Club (NPC) beat New Road Team (NRT) 1-0 to end their unbeaten run while NIB Friends Club registered their third consecutive victory beating Sankata Kathmandu Mall Club 2-1 at the Martyrs Memorial San Miguel A Division League here today.

Bhola Silwal scored in the 27th minute to give a much needed win for the defending champions after playing draws against Samsung Jawalakhel Youth Club and Ranipokhari Corner Team in their previous matches.

NPC climbed to second spot with 11 points from five matches, one point less than Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club. The defeat leaves NRT third with 10 points. NPC coach Birat Krishna Shrestha said he was anitcipating a tough match against the star-studded side. "We had a game plan since they have been playing well," said Shrestha.

NRT were forced to play without Danish striker Sayan Mosavi, who was suspended for the match for his double bookings. The only notable move from NRT came from Jeevan Sinkeman in the 15th minute when his powerful shot found NPC custodian Ritesh Thapa's hand before hitting the cross bar.

Two minutes later NPC's Ramesh Katuwal also found the woodwork. Bhola then struck for the departmental team in the 27th. Striker Ju Manu Rai dodged NRT defender Sagar Thapa before feeding to Chetan Ghimire, whose shot rebounded off NRT goalkeeper Surendra Shrestha to Bhola. The NPC midfielder gladly took the opportunity slotting home from close range.

Both the sides made hardly any threatening moves in the latter half. NPC will next play Friends Club on Thursday, where they will miss the services of goalie Ritesh and Rabin Shrestha after both the players picked up their second yellow card today.

Earlier, Friends beat Sankata 2-1 on goals from substitute Binod Lama and Nirajan Khadka. Ram Krishna GC replied for Sankata. With the win, Friends climbed one spot up to fourth with nine points whereas Sankata slipped to 11th with three points.

The 26th minute substitute Binod gave Friends the lead in the 54th with a powerful header on a Azad Pradhan corner. Ram Krishna levelled the scores in the 71st minute heading home a freekick from Nirajan Malla. Nirajan Khadka then sealed the match two minutes from time cashing in on Azad's corner, again.

Friends were looking comparatively a stronger side with several attacks on goal. Nirajan Khadka's freekick sailed inches over the bar in the 26th minute while Azad's freekick rebounded off the bar. In the 77th minute, Buddha Chemjong failed to score in an empty Sankata post. The only other notable attack from Sankata came in the 85th minute, Sujal Shrestha applying a wild shot on an accurate cross from Nirajan Malla.

Friends coach Mrigendra Mishra said he was satisfied with the result and was now targeting to beat the NPC. "We want to avenge the loss we suffered during the British Gurkha Cup," said Mishra. Friends suffered a 5-1 defeat despite leading 1-0 in the group stage match at the British Gurkha Cup.

Two of the lucky winners chosen from the San Miguel Fan Zone, Raju Poudel and Chuda Bahadur Karki got the opportunity of presenting the San Miguel Most Valuable Player trophies to Nirajan Khadka and Bhola Silwal respectively.