Pune FC continued to struggle with their form losing 1-3 to table toppers Dempo SC, Goa in an I-League Round-6 encounter at the Balewadi Sports Complex, on Saturday.
The loss was Pune FC’s third in a row and the first in a home match in this edition of the league. Pune FC’s last loss at home was to Salgaocar SC way back in May, 2011.
The home side did well in keeping with the tempo of the game, but at the same time conceded goals with let ups in the defence.
Dempo SC opened their scoring through Clifford Miranda (15th minute) then Anthony Perreira (42nd minute) before Ranti Martins Soleye (53rd minute) completed the tally converting a penalty-kick.
Pune FC pulled one-back through striker Jeje Lalpekhlua in the 26th minute, which turned out to be the equalizer in the first half.
The home side began proceedings fielding Amrinder Singh replacing Shahinlal Meloly in goal and Kamaljeet Kumar coming in place of Gurjinder Kumar in the left wing back position.
The hosts began probing early through some solo runs by Arata Izumi who did well penetrating the rivals with timely runs and kept the pressure on Dempo. A Jeje try from 20-yards out followed up with Dempo going ahead at the other end when unmarked Clifford nodded home a cross sent in by Anthony from the right.
Pune FC pressed hard and did not give up and eleven minutes later equalized when Jeje worked in a pass played to him by Chika Wali. The goal came off a free-kick earned 25-yards out that was well taken by medio Douhou Pierre, who floated the ball to the second post and beat ‘keeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury and allowing Chika to pull back and find Jeje, who had no ease slotting it from close .
Thereafter, Pune FC put the pressure. Lester Fernandez had a solo run on the left wing before pulling back a pass inside the box that had no takers as Jeje and Arata were yards away.
At the other end Pune FC ‘keeper Amrinder Singh tipped over a Peter Carvalho try from top of the box.
With the half time approaching, it was Dempo who went into the breather with a 2-1 advantage. The goal had Clifford cross and Anthony head diagonally past Amrinder to the far end.
On resumption, Pune FC went on the attack from the word go, but somehow could not penetrate. Douhou blasted over from 25 yards out being the best in the opening minutes of the half.
As the game settled Pune FC conceded an unnecessary penalty-kick when defender Chika Wali slipped inside the penalty box and the ball played in by Ranti Martins accidently found his hand as he hit the turf. Ranti stepped up and slotted it to the left corner of Amrinder.
Down but not out Pune FC attacked and came close on several occasions. Arata strode clear on the left, cut in to send a try which was blocked by the Dempo keeper, who despite fumbling on first attempt managed to keep the ball in his control.
Thereafter, Pune FC brought in striker Keita Mandjou, who made his first appearance in the I-League since his injury in the Federation Cup. His inclusion made a difference as the forward line clicked well and chances came aplenty.
But while Pune FC attacked their defense time and again slipped. Defender Anas Edathodika gave Pune FC an anxious moment when he allowed Ranti to get through only to be lucky as he retreated and did well to block the attempt.
Pune FC’s finish was founding wanting with Jeje missing twice from close range. The first a cross from Douhou from the right saw Jeje head but ended being blocked by the keeper on the line. His next found the upright with his left footer.
Keita then got into the act with a try that was straight into the keeper from 8-yards out, before the game closed out.
Pune FC remain on 5 points and next play Air India on November 24 at home.