Shaukhala rescues Three Star; BUC hold MMC

KATHMANDU; Boys Union Club (BUC) held leaders Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangi Club (MMC) to a goalless draw while an 89th minute equaliser from striker Santosh Sahukhala saved Nabil Three Star Club from another upset in their 1-1 stalemate against Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) here at the Dasharath Stadium today.

MMC maintain their lead atop the table with 13 points from four matches while BUC climbed one spot up to 10th. With two each draws and a win Three Star have five points to remain at the eighth position. The Armymen occupy the sixth place with seven points from five matches.

Three Star dominated the first half but it was Armymen who took the lead with a 60th minute strike from Hari Mahato. Hari gave a goalline finish to substitute Hiranya Magar’s cross. Sahukhala then came with the late equaliser converting from the area thanks to the lapse of defensive coordination that saw TAC fail to clear the ball.

In an eventful second half, Army striker Bikarna Shrestha missed three chances on goal. Shrestha, who was the second highest scorer in the previous edition with 27 goals, missed a sitter close from the goalline in the 51st minute failing to direct a free header into the nets. In the dying moments he muffed up two chances in a situation where he was left unmarked. Three Star goal keeper Kiran Chemjong also denied his powerful shot in the 58th minute.

TAC custodian Bikash Malla was the man-of-the-match foiling two Three Star attacks on goal. First he beautifully punched a powerful shot from Pradeep Maharjan in the 56th minute and later displayed an excellent piece of goalkeeping, punching a powerfully struck Jocelyn Morgan Pierce shot.

In the first half, Anjan KC’s curling freekick rebounded off the cross bar and a minute later Pierce couldn’t meet a decent cross from Santosh. Ruing the missed opportunities TAC coach Raju Kaji Shakya blamed his strikers for not coming with a clear result. His counterpart Bal Gopal Maharjan pointed out the coordination lapse in midfield and strikers for the result. “Once again our strikers failed to get the support from the midfielders. I am satisfied with the outcome today but we will definitely work on their coordination,” said Maharjan.

Earlier, coach Chhiring Lopsang Gurung admitted they didn’t play like the leaders since BUC dominated the entire match. In a lackluster first half, Shuvam Shrestha’s close range header was denied by MMC defender Tashi Chhiring. The defender once again came in action defending a Sudip Limbu shot from the area in the 50th minute and a minute later Shuvam missed a chance in one-on-one with MMC goalie Bishal Shrestha.

Manang’s only threatening move came in the 65th minute from Korean striker Lee Ji Hoon, who met a sublime cross from Ganesh Khadka but muffed up the chance with a wild shot. “The draw was not unexpected because there has not been a consistent performance from all the teams,” said MMC coach Gurung. BUC coach Kumar Katuwal said he was satisfied to share points with the leaders but rued the missed chances.