Naihati, April 10: Mohammedan Sporting Club came second in the 2021-22 Hero I-League after a 3-1 loss against RoundGlass Punjab FC, here at Naihati Stadium.
Two goals from Kurtis Guthrie and a touch from super substitute Rupert Nongrum were enough to secure all three points for RoundGlass Punjab. Nikola Stojanovic’s volley in the first half was the only goal scored by Mohammedan.
Three of the four goals came in the first part of the match. Kurtis Guthrie opened the scoring for Roundglass Punjab in the tenth minute, moments after Mohammedan squandered a scoring opportunity. Guthrie walked up and took on two Mohammedan defenders before passing the ball to an entrenched Zothanmawia, who could only watch as the ball rolled into the back of his net.
The chance to equalize fell to Mohammedan when Andelo Rudovic was brought down on the edge of the Punjab box. Rudovic took the free kick and placed it nicely on goal, but Jaspreet Singh palmed the winger’s attempt comfortably. Minutes later, Rudovic tried to score from another set piece but this time it went wide.
Parity was restored just after the half-hour mark when Nikola Stojanovic pounced on a dropped ball and smashed a beautiful left-footed volley that swooped past the keeper. The joy of this much-needed equalizer for Mohammedan was short-lived as just four minutes later, Roundglass Punjab restored the one-goal lead courtesy of Kurtis Guthrie again.
After equalizing, Mohammedan was desperate to take the lead. His focus on attack made them complacent at the back, allowing Guthrie to cut through the defense and pass the ball past an undefended goalkeeper. The Mohammedan defense remained shaky and almost allowed Guthrie to score a hat-trick in the first half. The Zothanmawia guardian brilliantly denied the attacker.
In the second half, Marcus Joseph came to life. Roundglass Punjab had managed to keep the prolific striker quiet in the first half, but the Trinidad striker managed to unsettle Punjab’s solid defensive line. Josef Yarney denied a goal to Joseph, whose well-timed tackle dispossessed Joseph before he could do any damage.
Moments later, Joseph was denied again, this time by Jaspreet Singh, who charged at the ball and palmed it away. Frustration grew in the Mohammedan field when the referee booked coach Andrey Chernyshov for dissenting in the technical area. Capitalizing on the unease, Roundglass Punjab established a two-goal cushion with eight minutes remaining.
After winning a free kick on the right flank, almost close to the corner flag, Joseba Beitia headed the ball towards Yarney, who headed the ball towards an unmarked substitute Rupert Nongrum. Nongrum carefully deflected the ball into the net at the near post to put the final nail in the coffin.
In the closing minutes, Mohammedan desperately tried to salvage some of the game, but Punjab’s solid defense stood tall and strong until the final whistle. The only time Mohammedan really came close to scoring in the second half was in the closing minutes when Nikola Stojanovic’s free kick attempt was inches from goal.
A second loss of the season means Mohammedan cannot go top of the table and remain second after a disappointing result, two points behind leaders Gokulam FC and two above third-place Roundglass Punjab.