Ambernath United Atlanta FC (AUA FC) and ARA FC met at the Cooperage stadium in Mumbai for their I-League 2nd Division group encounter. The game finished in a 1-1 tie, with ARA FC retaining their lead in the group with 7 points from 3 games and AUA FC trailing with 4 points from 2 games.
ARA FC dominated the game in the first half, creating many scoring chances. But, AUA FC’s defence and goalie Rahul Murali performed admirably to deny them on several opportunities. But, ARA’s persistent pressure paid off when, in the second minute of first-half added time, star striker Naro Shrestha breached the offside line before blasting past the onrushing keeper to the left corner of the net to put his team ahead at the interval.
Steven Dias’ team came out with fresh zeal and a change in shape and style in the second half, with Aaron D Costa replacing Mandeep to strengthen the midfield and offer up offensive opportunities. The home team gained momentum after a few solid offensive movements, but ARA FC’s defence held firm to hold them at bay.
Mathew’s goal hits a draw
But, AUA FC’s perseverance paid off when they won a free kick on the right side just outside the box. Johnson Mathew came up and scored a spectacular lobbed shot that sailed over the keeper and dropped at the perfect moment to slip into the net, tying the game and raising the emotions of the home fans. Head Coach Steven Dias, who was previously famed for his freekick goals, would have been proud.
The goal inspired AUA FC to try for the victory, and they came near right at the end when Himanshu Patil made a run for the goal with just the goalie to beat. Sangramjit Chowdhury, the keeper for ARA FC, rushed off his line and blocked Himanshu’s goal-bound attempt, keeping the score equal.
The last stages of the game featured some end-to-end play as both sides sought for the winner, but the game finished in a 1-1 tie, with each club earning a point. ARA FC leads the group with 7 points, while AUA FC is second with 4 points after two games.
Nevertheless, it was a thrilling game that demonstrated both clubs’ abilities to compete for the top slot. The first half was controlled by ARA FC, while the second was dominated by AUA FC, resulting in a well-deserved draw for both teams.
1 – 1 ARA FC (Naro Shrestha 45+2′) Ambernath United Atlanta FC (Johnson Mathews 79′)
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