Minerva Academy FC U-18 boys started their U-18 I-League campaign in style, beating I-League stalwarts Bengaluru FC U-18 team at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Monday.
Playing the opening fixture of the Rest of India Zone (Group A), the Young Minervans got into the groove very early on, putting the pressure right away on Bengaluru FC. BFC gradually absorbed the pressure and then the match heated up with both sides now looking to break to deadlock.
The first goal scoring chance came to Bengaluru FC when their striker was fouled just outside the box, which looked a very dangerous ferric. The Minervans however did it well to thwart off the danger.
The Blue Colts also forced the Minerva Academy FC keeper Sukhadev Patil to come up with two fantastic saves in succession. But it was the Pride of Punjab which had the first laugh when Rohit Jamat scored the opening goal in the 21st minute.
Two minutes later, Rohit Jamat was again in thick of actions, when he beat an offside trap to found himself staring at the Goalkeeper. But the Bengaluru goalie was studious enough to deny Rohit his second goal.
Dictating the proceedings, the Young Minervans kept the ball to themselves, playing a possession game. In the 30th minute, Minerva nearly doubled the lead when Prince’s powerful header kissed the far post.
Bengaluru FC relied on the counter and made forays into the Minervan’s territory but failed to get the goal. The match went into the break with the scoreline reading 1-0 in favour of Minerva Academy FC.
The 2nd half started with Prince missing another sitter before Bengaluru FC took charge. They troubled the Minervans’ midfield and initiated lots of attacks. But they failed to break open the Minervans’ wall, which was solidly spearheaded by Salman Latif.
The Minervans, comprising of boys from the club’s catchment area – Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Uttarakhand – regrouped and forced the BFC boys on the defence. The BFC defence was tested time and again thought the second goal came only in the 75th minute.
Amarjit dribbled from the centre of the park to set free Subham Sarangi, who replaced Krishna Pandit just before the half-time, to score a beauty and take the match away from Bengaluru FC.
BFC created few more chance after that but Minervans were still strong enough to ensure 3 points from the match.
In the other match of the day, Lonestar Kashmir FC beat Fateh Hyderabad AFC 6-1 to claim the pole position.