CHENNAI: Posting a hard-fought 1-0 win over Southern Railway, AGORC kept apace their title retention in the St Joseph’s-Chennai Football Association Senior Division League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday. P Muthu’s 84th-minute separated the two sides in an intense battle.
It wasn’t the sort of scrap as the scoreline suggests, as both sides exhibited vibrancy, though in patches. Initially, an organised AGORC controlled the game only to be pushed to the periphery by Railway in the middle phase. The defending champions, though, staged a timely recovery to emerge victorious.
AGORC started off briskly, gathering momentum down their favoured right flank with Vinodh Kumar at the helm of affairs. They made promising thrusts into the box, though unable to fully optimize their chances. Forward Mamoudou got himself into irretrievable tangles whereas P Muthu was adeptly marked.
Muthu, though, fed Hannif with a sumptuous through ball but the right back failed to connect the ball. Veteran midfielder Jestes Antony’s introduction after Vinodh Kumar’s forced exit — he was elbowed down — enlivened the contest and he soon made his presence felt with an accurate free-kick into the box. However, left-back Edison missed it by inches.
Contrastingly, Railway’s builds-ups were gradual and measured but they came close to scoring but Sirajuddin’s piercing left-footer was cleared by Naveen Kumar. Thereafter leading well into the second half, Railways enjoyed a spell of domination.
Lithe-framed PC Riju’s couldn’t be missed, for he was a roving threat. Without much hassles, the fleet-footed striker tricked his markers to submission and created enough space and time for his shots. But twice he was deprived by AGORC custodian Alexander, whose efforts earned him the player-of-the-match cash prize.
Just when Railway seemed at a better reach to break the deadlock, AGORC rallied themselves and regained their tempo. Antony’s craft and experience rendered their penetrations with an edge, and it was invariable that the goal had his stamp.
His through ball to Muthu was near perfect in that it slipped between the defender and the goalkeeper and his trusted ally Muthu strode it home.