RoundGlass Punjab FC began its Hero I-League 2021-22 campaign with a 2-0 win over Rajasthan United FC on Sunday, December 26, 2021. Striker Kurtis Guthrie scored the first goal in the 27th minute and substitute Aphaoba Singh added the second in the last minute of the match, as RoundGlass Punjab FC picked up the three points against the side from Rajasthan, who began the game with nine players on the field.
The first half began with RoundGlass Punjab FC showing its attacking intent right from the start. In the fourth minute, Shankar Sampingiraj forced opposing keeper, Vishal Joon, into a save after finding space to shoot inside the penalty area. Ashish Jha, who started on the left flank in attack, collected a cross from the right flank in the 9th minute and let fly from the edge of the penalty box. However, it went over the crossbar.
RoundGlass Punjab FC almost took the lead in the 18th minute after the forward duo of Travis Major and Kurtis Guthrie combined excellently to fashion a shooting opportunity for the latter. His effort fizzed past the face of the goal and was eventually scrambled away by the Rajasthan United defense. The ball was worked back into the box, but Travis could not get the desired contact on his shot with his outstretched leg as his effort was collected by Vishal.
The attacking persistence paid off in the 27th minute for RoundGlass Punjab FC as Kurtis gave his team the lead with a smart finish. Pouncing on a loose ball inside the Rajasthan penalty area, the Englishman gently lifted the ball over an onrushing keeper and into the net to register his first goal on Indian soil.
The scoreline stood at 1-0 at the half-time interval but it could have been two, had Shankar’s header from a Lalchhuanmawia Fanai cross in the 35th minute not gone just inches past the post and out of play.
Head Coach Ashley Westwood brought on Sumeet Passi and Aakash Sangwan in the full-back positions for the second half, in place of Rino Anto and Fanai respectively. Three minutes after the restart, captain Gurtej Singh came close to doubling RoundGlass Punjab FC’s lead as his header from a corner-kick routine missed the target narrowly.
Shankar and Joseba Beitia tried their luck from long range but could not test the opposing keeper. At the hour mark, Suranjit saw his header saved, and just a minute later, Ashish also saw a headed effort tipped over the bar by Vishal. In the 71st minute, RoundGlass Punjab FC earned a free-kick 20 yards from goal. Beitia stepped up to take the shot, but it went out of play after rippling the side netting of the goal.
Minutes later, Kurtis almost doubled his tally for the evening as he got his head to a deep cross from Aakash. However, his shot went wide of the target. He brought out another save from Vishal in the 80th minute, this time meeting a cross from the right flank.
Substitute Aphaoba Singh made it two for RoundGlass Punjab FC in the 90th minute as he reacted smartly to head the ball home from close range after a corner kick wreaked havoc in the Rajasthan box.
The match ended 2-0 as RoundGlass Punjab FC picked up the three points. The Club’s next game, against Churchill Brothers FC Goa, will take place on Friday, December 31, 2021 at the Naihati Stadium.
(RoundGlass Punjab FC)