Wasteful AIFF XI held to goalless draw by JCT.
Scoring a hat- trick of draws -- after drawing their previous matches against Mumbai FC and Dempo -- might not have helped the side from Delhi in moving up the points table, but they are definitely gaining in confidence as was evident in their domineering performance against a side ranked seventh at the start of Wednesday's match.
At the end of round 10, while JCT have now slipped to the eighth spot with 12 points, AIFF XI are slowly moving up the ladder to be placed ninth in the rankings with 10 points.
The fearlessness of youth was once again evident as the AIFF XI players started off in an attacking fashion against a JCT side which looked a bit reserved.
Quick to pounce on the defensive mindset of the JCT players, Malsawm Fela was the first to make an inroad into the JCT half in the 16th minute. Going in from the right, Fela's fierce shot from just outside the box missed the far post by a whisker.
Although the AIFF players attacked from the word go, the JCT defenders were up to the mark and thwarted their attempts at goal.
The only JCT player who looked to have a fair chance of penetrating the AIFF defence was Amandeep Singh, who kept moving in from the flank but the AIFF backline, led by captain Raju Gaekwad, kept him at bay.
AIFF's striking duo of Fela and Jeje Lalpeklua kept making inroads but failed to find the back of the net.
JCT's only chance in the first half came in the 35th when Amandeep moved in from the right and took a shot at goal, only to find an alert Jagroop Singh manning the AIFF goal with elan. Jagroop fisted the ball out of play without much difficulty.
The first half ended with the ball being played mostly in the JCT half with Fela and Jeje being fed continuously from the flanks by Jewel Shaikh and Jibon Singh.
The second half started with another AIFF attack. Fela was once again the man guilty of missing an easy chance in front of the goal.
Going inside the box from the left, he had managed to wrong foot two JCT defenders only to shoot wide.
AIFF's closest attempt at goal came in the 53rd when Inderpreet Singh's free-kick was deflected straight to Fela by a JCT defender much to the delight of the AIFF striker. But Fela's excitement got the better of him as his hurried shot from right at the top of the box went just over the bar.
Fela again messed up an easy chance in front of the goal in the 69th. Needing to just tap in a loose ball inside the box, he shot it wide, much to the delight of the JCT custodian.
Having failed to score of umpteen chances, he was finally substituted with Jagtar Singh who upped the tempo as soon as he entered the field.
With the JCT team failing to threaten the AIFF backline, the home side got one last attempt at goal in injury time when Jagtar went on the offensive and had only the JCT goalie to beat. But an alert JCT goalie came out of the box to block his advance.
Jeje, who was standing 30 metres away from the box, pounced on the loose ball only to hit it high.
AIFF XI coach Desmond Bulpin said that he was happy with his team's performance although his boys should have scored. " I think we did a good job and dominated the proceedings right through. If only we had managed to score. The boys are gaining in confidence and will only get better from here on," he said.
In other matches, HAL, Bangalore defeated Pune FC 1- 0 and Salgaocar SC sprang a surprise beating Dempo SC 3- 1.
A brace by Ryuji Sueoka helped Salgaocar score the deserving win over the defending champions and move to second place in the tables behind East Bengal.
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