Pune FC hammer Kenkre FC 5-2 to top Maharashtra Zone in U19 I-League
Pune FC topped the Maharashtra Zone with a comfortable 5-2 win over Kenkre FC in an Under-19 I-League Round-8 encounter at the Cooperage Ground in Mumbai on Tuesday. The three points earned meant Pune FC took their tally to 19 points at the end of the zonal round and took the top spot over from DSK Shivajians (19 points) thanks to a better goal difference.
Meanwhile, the result extended Pune FC's unbeaten run to six games. It also continues the unbeaten run in away games, with the team securing four back to back wins in a row making it a one hundred per cent away record.
Goals from Prakash Sarkar (9'), Arif Shaikh (23',88'), Akshay Pashilkar (41') and Farukh Choudhary (43') saw Pune FC beat the home team by a comfortable three goal margin. Kenkre FC however managed to reduce the margin of the defeat when Yash Mhatre (19',46') pulled two goals back, one in each half of the game.
Pune FC went on the offensive from the opening minute of the game. Sannik Murmu ran from the left flank past the Kenkre defenders only to be denied by the custodian. It was the first of many onslaughts on the Kenkre's goal which were to follow over the course of the 90 minutes of the game.
For all the offensives that Pune FC led from the two flanks and the centre, it took them only nine minutes in the first half to open the scoring. The attack led by Sannik down the left saw him release the ball to Farukh who in turn passed it to Prakash in the centre who fired a salvo past a diving Kenkre custodian.
Even though Pune FC scored a goal, there were no signs of the home team ready to be a pushover for the victory. Post the first goal they too began a counter offensive on the Pune FC goal. Custodian Sukhadev Patil for Pune FC was left rooted to the spot after an ill timed foul earned Kenkre FC a free-kick just outside the box. Yash Mhatre stepped up and shot it into the top left corner to equalise.
It was not for long though. In the 23rd minute a brilliant long ball from defender Myron Mendes from the Pune FC half saw the ball reach captain Altamash Sayed. He in turn passed it to Arif in the centre who gently tapped it in.
An incident involving eagles swooping down on the Kenkre custodian Joe Paul saw the game being held up for a few minutes in the last quarter of the game. When the game resumed the Kenkre defence looked a little shaky which Pune FC exploited to the hilt. The 41st minute of the game saw Altamash run down the centre and pass the ball to Akshay Pashilkar who chipped the ball down the left bottom.
Two minutes later, Farukh came to the party as Pune FC opened the floodgates. Altamash was at the centre of the scoring as he passed the ball to Farukh who went round the Kenkre keeper and tapped it in. Pune FC went into the half time with a comfortable 4-1 scoreline in their favour.
The second half however began in a completely different fashion. A long cross from Sekhar Bhattacharya saw the ball reach Mhatre who headed it in past Sukhadev. Thereafter the game remained confined to end to end action where Pune FC kept dominating attacks but they lacked the final finish. In fact a brilliant run by Arif which saw him finish the move with a goal ended in heartbreak as it was ruled offside.
The last goal of the game came in the dying minutes. With Kenkre committing all players forward, there was little room for an error. However, a defensive frailty in the 88th minute saw the ball reach Arif, from a Pune FC corner on the right. He calmly collected the ball and drilled it past the Kenkre custodian to seal the game.