NPC climb on top; NRT share points

KATHMANDU: Defending champions Nepal Police Club (NPC) climbed atop the table thrashing NIB Friends Club 3-0 at the Martyrs Memorial San Miguel A Division League here at the Dasharath Stadium today.

NPC have 14 points from six matches while second placed Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club have 13. In another match, Machhindra Club played a goalless draw with New Road Team (NRT) to leapfrog Friends for fourth place on superior goal difference. Machhindra and Friends have nine points each from six matches.

NPC forwards Ju Manu Rai, Chetan Ghimire and midfielder Bhola Silwal all struck in the second half after a lackluster first 45 minutes. Ju Manu gave NPC the lead in the 62nd minute when he found the nets from outside the area. Chetan doubled the lead five minutes later taking advantage of a blunder from Friends custodian Rupak Shrestha. Rupak failed to gather a corner ball from Bhola and the striker made no mistake with a goalline finish.

Bhola put the issue beyond doubt with after a solo effort goal in the 82nd minute.

Friends coach Mrigendra Mishra blamed the poor goalkeeping for his team’s loss. “We conceded the first two goals because Rupak was not at his best,” said Mishra.

Friends created a good move in the dying moments when Sushil KC delivered a sublime cross to unmarked Buddha Chemjong, who ended up with a weak header only to be parried by NPC second-choice goalkeeper Bishal Shrestha. NPC missed on goal in the eight minute after Ramesh Katuwal’s powerfully struck shot from the edge hit the pole.

Friends coach Mishra regretted for not winning the match. “NPC were without regular custodian Ritesh Thapa and an influential player Robin Shrestha. But we could not take advantage of their absence,” said Mishra. Both the players were suspended for the match for their double bookings. NPC coach Birat Krishna Shrestha said they had planned not to give any time and space for Friends players and the result came in their favour.

Earlier, NRT coach Diken Suwal admitted that his players didn’t play well and had to share points with Machhindra. NRT, who maintained their third position with 11 points, were dominated by Machhindra in the first half. Jeeten Karki denied a shot from Bishnu KC in a situation where goalkeeper Surendra Shrestha was down on the ground in the ninth minute.

Machhindra goalie Bishal Magar brilliantly punched a close range header from Jeevan Sinkeman in the 20th minute. Two minutes later Machhindra’s Naresh KC couldn’t meet a cross from Bishnu in the goalmouth. In the dying moments, Ram Sharan Magar denied a certain goal from Subash Rai when keeper Bishal had advanced forward. Happy with the draw, Machhindra coach Dhruva KC said his boys showed immaturity.