I-League 2022: Kenkre FC relegated after Indian Arrows stab home a late winner

Indian Arrows scored the winner against Kenkre FC in the 90th minute. (Image Courtesy: Twitter/ILeagueOfficial)
Indian Arrows scored the winner against Kenkre FC in the 90th minute. (Image Courtesy: Twitter/ILeagueOfficial)

Kenkre FC ended up on the wrong side of the I-League table as they suffered a 0-1 defeat against Indian Arrows at the Naihati Stadium on Wednesday. The Mumbai-based club were relegated after they failed to garner the required three points to finish above Real Kashmir FC.

Himanshu Jangra scored in the 90th minute for the Arrows to break Kenkre hearts and cement their relegation.

Coming into the game, the equation was quite simple for Kenkre FC: win and hope the Snow Leopards falter. The Mumbai-based side had accumulated only two points from their 12 Phase I matches. However, since then Kenkre have been unbeaten in the relegation round.

In their previous match, Akhil Kothari's men sealed a gritty 1-0 victory against Real Kashmir FC in a do-or-die tie. They needed to replicate a similar performance against the Indian Arrows. Both teams made an enterprising start to the game, desperate not to finish in the bottom spot.

The Maharashtra side made an early attempt at goal through Vijay Nagappan, whose low effort from outside the box was off target. The AIFF developmental side carved out a glorious opportunity in the 30th minute to pull ahead.

Parthib Gogoi, presiding over a free kick from deep on the left flank, drilled his effort into the near post. Kenkre FC custodian Tenzin Samdup had to step in with a diving save.

Minutes later, Gogoi came close once again to breaking the deadlock, however, he was denied by post this time.

In the dying moments of the first half, Kynsai Khongsit created an opportunity for Kenkre FC to bag an elusive goal when he outmuscled his marker and whipped in a cross from the right. Yash Mhatre failed to capitalize on the gilt-edged opportunity and dragged his header wide.

Himanshu Jangra's late winner seals Kenkre FC's fate

Kenkre FC started the second half on the front foot as Akhil Kothari urged his men to bomb forward and pin down Indian Arrows. They controlled the midfield for long periods and carved out multiple half chances.

Kenkre FC came close to scoring in the 69th minute when Vinay Hariji's acrobatic attempt at a clearance inside the Indian Arrows box fell kindly for Yash Mhatre. The young forward's effort was stopped by Lovepreeth Singh. Minutes later, Vijay Nagappan set up Khongsit, however, his effort too was wide of the mark.

After the drinks break, the AIFF developmental side looked like a changed outfit. Indian Arrows players rattled the crossbar twice in quick succession. A venomous long-ranger from Tankadhar Bag beat the goalie but not the goal frame. Vinay Harji's effort from the edge of the box beat the keeper and grazed the bar less than a minute later.

Unfortunately for Kenkre FC, the Arrows finally managed to break the Mumbai side's resistance and bagged a late goal in the 90th minute. Abdul Hanan played the ball from the left flank and Himanshu Jangra evaded his markers before slotting the ball home past a helpless Tenzin Samdup.

Kenkre FC's faith in the tournament had been sealed. Although they had a brilliant run in Phase 2, the Mumbai club and Akhil Kothari finally had too much on their plate to handle.

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Edited by Ritwik Kumar
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