Fed Cup: Pune go down 0-1 to United SC
Pune FC were handed a narrow 1-0 defeat by United SC in a Round-2 Group A clash of the 35th Federation Cup at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.
A solitary strike from second-half substitute Baldeep Singh (71st minute) proved to be the winner as poor finishing in the final third cost Pune FC.
With this loss, Pune FC dropped to third in the table with one point behind Churchill Brothers and United SC. The loss also meant that only a combination of results in the remaining Group-A matches will see Pune FC progress to the next round.
Coach Mike Snoei made one change to the starting line-up bringing in midfielder Mumtaz Akhtar in place of defender Zeeshan Rahman.
Pune FC began the game on the offensive and dominated proceedings from the very first minute.
Both, winger James Meyer and defender Othallo Tabia, managed to get clear on the right, but their crosses into the box were cleared.
Ten minutes in, Pune FC had a great chance to open scoring. Medio Arata Izumi found winger Anthony D'Souza on the left on a sliding pass to open up space.
The winger beat his marker and sent in a low cross for an onrushing Meyer.
The Australian was however denied a shot by a United SC defender who cleared just in time.
Pune FC kept on pressing and had Gurjinder go wide from range moments later.
Twenty minutes into the half, Pune FC once again went close. Calum Angus' powerful low drive on a freekick from range was somehow palmed away by USC custodian Jayanta Paul.
At the other end, United SC went close for the first time at the half hour mark.
Set on a counter, striker Ranti Martins tried to find a teammate with a floating cross from the right.
The ball was safely cleared by Pune FC skipper Anas Edathodika in front of the goal.
Seven minutes later, playmaker Douhou Pierre created a wonderful chance for striker Riga Mustapha.
The Ivorian's inch-perfect through pass saw Riga time his run to beat the offside trap. However, the linesman on the near side incorrectly flagged it offside.
Minutes later Pune FC once again went close. After a quick one-two with Arata, Anthony set him up for a shot inside the box.
With no one challenging, Arata's poorly executed left-footed attempt sailed wide towards the corner flag.
Despite being dominant, failure to convert chances saw Pune FC go into the break tied at 0-0 with United SC.
Pune FC brought in winger Gabriel Fernandes to replace an injured Meyer after restart.
The second half was a similar story and Pune FC began brightly. However, United SC created the first chance of the half.
Medio Lalkamal Bhowmick's ambitious shot from Ranti's cut back going over three minutes after restart.
At the hour mark, Pune FC created the best chance of the match. Calum's perfectly floated cornerkick from the left found an unmarked Riga inside the box. The striker, however, agonisingly headed the ball inches over the crossbar on the free header.
Six minutes later, Pune FC went close once again. After being brilliantly sent through by Douhou, Arata controlled the ball on the right before sliding the ball inside the box in no man's land letting the chance go.
However, United SC skipper Deepak Mandal almost gifted Pune FC a goal by trying to awkwardly clear the same ball only for keeper Jayanta to save the day.
At the other end, United SC - mostly restricted to counter attacks - took the lead against the run of play after a defensive lapse midway through the half.
Playmaker Eric Brown did well to beat Othallo on the left before cutting back the ball to unmarked substitute Baldeep. The ex-Pune FC player - on for Ranti - easily tapped in from close range.
The goal saw United SC fall even deeper protecting their slender lead.
Into the final quarter, Anthony did well to find Riga on the edge of the box with a cutback from left. The striker had his first attempt blocked by the crowded defense before his rebound was collected by the keeper.
Five minutes later, substitute Thongkhosiem Haokip - on for Arata - went close from the right flank. Controlling Douhou's through pass, the youngster took a crack from the edge of the box only to be denied by keeper Jayanta's diving save.
Pune FC tried to penetrate through the United SC defense in the final stages, but the opponents held on for a narrow 1-0 win.
(Posted on 17-01-2014)