Mohali: Debutants Minerva Punjab FC held defending Champions Rail Coach Factory (RCF) to a 1-1 draw despite going behind by a goal in their second final round game of the 31st Punjab Football League at the SRS Ambedkar Football Ground in Dolike, Punjab on Tuesday. Overseas recruit Kassim Aidara equalised for the Chandigarh based club after RCF had taken the lead.
The draw also helped Minerva continue it’s undefeated run in the league but they however could not get back to a win against a stronger opponent after putting up an draw even in the previous match against CRPF.
The match started on an even note as both the sides utilised the pace upfront, but Minerva could have well gone forward in the opening four minutes when the hat-trick hero against Sri Harigobind Sahib FC, Akshay Pashillar took a shot that almost sailed inside the net, only for the RCF’s custodian to deny him through a brilliant acrobatic save. Unable to find a goal, frustrated Akash Sangwan and Gagandeep Bali took shots from outside the box, but to no avail as the 1st half break approached.
The second-half started on an equal pace until RCF took the lead in the 56th minute, owing to some defensive blunders in the Minerva back-line. The miscommunication in the defence led to RCF score an invaluable goal to stay in the hunt for the trophy.
The introduction of Indian U-19 international Moinuddin and Girik Khosla brightened up things as the newcomers attacked in numbers. Soon Bhutanese ‘Ronaldo’ Chencho Gultshen was introduced in place of Dzmitry Kowb as Juan Perez went for the kill. Minerva soon scored the all important equaliser in the 97th minute when Kassim Aidara put one in, one minute before full time.
It was a closely fought encounter and at the end justifiedly both teams shared one point each as Minerva remained unbeaten in the league, taking their undefeated streak to seven games. The club will next play Punjab Police on November 3.