Bengaluru FC and Lonestar Kashmir FC traded goals either side of half-time to eventually share the spoils in a Group A encounter of the U-19 I-League Rest of India Zone at the Ambedkar Stadium on Sunday.
Right-winger Assar Mohd gave Kashmir the lead in the 16th minute tucking neatly into the far corner off a Wasiq Wani pullback from the byline inside the box. BFC equalised through Nirnaik Naik right at the end of the half, the forward turning in a low cross from left-winger Shelton Nickson.
The second half meandered on before springing to life in the last ten minutes. Much to the anguish of the vociferous Kashmir supporters, BFC took the lead for the first time in the match, Mani Vannan beating the onrushing keeper to slot home at the back post.
Just when the blues Richard Hood marshalled Blues looked to see off the tie riding the one goal lead, Kashmir got their second courtesy Wani’s delightful dink past the advancing keeper.
With three minutes left on the clock, BFC held on for a point despite going down to ten men in the next minute when their keeper Srijith S lunged at Adnan Ayub on the edge of the box to earn his second yellow.
The Kashmir side started the match brightly with their attacking trio of Danish Farooq, Adnan and Mohd. Uneeb combining well from the word go. BFC on the other hand won three corners inside the first twenty minutes to Kashmir’s two but the boys in blue lacked teeth up front.
Kashmir FC looked the likelier of the two to surge ahead and they did by converting the first real chance of the match. Playing No 10 in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Wani darted inside the box unchallenged to pullback for a lurking Assar from the byline. Assar flicked it past BFC custodian Srijith S with the ball nestling into the bottom right corner.
Kashmir FC should have doubled the tally had Adnan not passed the ball to Wani who was offside from a good angle.
At the other end, BFC’s forward Nishant Bhatt dragged wide a gilt-edged chance to peg back after Naik had set him up beautifully.
Soon after Naik drew level, turning in a low cross from Nickson which the defense and goalkeeper made a hash of.
It was not until the 82nd minute that the second period hit top gear, albeit making no difference to the final score. Vannan came close with a cross-shot and Adnan turned well to pull wide before BFC took the lead. Substitute Pradeep Ramesh fed Mannan who cut in to place the ball low past the onrushing keeper and into the far corner.
Five minutes later Kashmir FC drew level. Wani got on the end of Adnan’s pass to lob the keeper with the ball bouncing into the back of the net. BFC Keeper Srijith was punished for his rash tackle on Adnan a minute later, earning a second booking to make the long walk down the tunnel.
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)