Vasco: Maharashtra’s semifinal hopes are hanging by a thread after losing to Railways by a solitary goal in a Santosh Trophy clash at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco on Friday.
The only goal of the match was scored in the 32nd minute when Rahul Das sent the ball into his own goal. But despite being reduced to 10 men in the 60th minute, Railways soldiered on for an important win.
Railways now have three points from three matches while Maharashtra, who made it to the final last year, are at the bottom without a point from two matches.
Needing a win, Maharashtra attacked vigorously but were guilty of holding the ball for too long in midfield. When they lost possession, coach Godfred Pereira was understandably furious on the touchline.
Aaron D’Costa, their lone man upfront lacked support and failed to get a clear look at goal for 90 minutes.
Railways striker Rajesh Soosanayakam had already scored three goals in the tournament and he came close scoring his fourth when fed by Jitendra Pal. His close ranger, however, was parried away by keeper Aditya Mishra.
The three-time champions finally broke the deadlock against the run of play just after the half an hour mark. Pool Hembram was given space to penetrate into the Maharashtra box and when the right-back crossed dangerously, a nervous Rahul turned it into his own goal.
Railways were motivated and had the upper hand with Shabaz Pathan and Goutam Kujur pulling the strings in midfield.
‘Pass and play’ was the message from Railways coach Parthasarathy Thulasi in the second session but it wasn’t working with their opponents fighting hard for a comeback.
At the other end, Rajesh was denied yet again after his right-footer hit the horizontal.
Following Shabaz’s red card in the 60th minute for elbowing Shrikant Veermallu, goalkeeper Owais Khan played a stellar role and pulled off some fine saves to deny Vijith Shetty on two occasions. Vaibhav Shirley had the chance to make an immediate impact from the bench but the striker headed over from close in the dying minutes. [TOI]