Calcutta: Prayag United Sports Club are gradually getting back to the position from where they can have a serious impact on the top five slots of the I-League table.
Having overpowered defending champions Dempo SC last week, they stunned Pune FC 2-0 in Kalyani, on Wednesday, to brighten their prospects further in the remainder of the competition.
Not that United SC were the dominant side. Rather, they got off to a scrappy start.
Pune FC, on the other hand, had a great opportunity to shut the door on their opponents. But they squandered as many as three sitters in the first session.
United SC took full advantage of Pune FC’s profligacy. They played a waiting game and caught their rivals on the wrong foot with fast counter-attacks. That they got both the goals — Lalkamal Bhowmick and Ranty Martins were the scorers — on the break, drove home the point.
Importantly for United SC, they managed to win despite Costa Rican Carlos Hernandez looking a tad subdued throughout the game.
However, the script could have been an entirely different one had striker James Moga found the target in the 12th minute, instead of shooting at the side netting, from inside the penalty box.
Then in the 21st minute, midfielder Douhou Pierre played a one-two with Moga and had only goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee to beat. Fortunately for United SC, Pierre’s right-footer sailed over the crosspiece.
Towards the end of the fist half, Izumi Arata set it up for Moga, who found himself in a one-to-one situation with Sangram. Again, United SC got a reprieve the Sudanese striker waited and Deepak Mondal got good bit of time to effect a clearance.
The rub of the green simply went in the home team’s favour as another attempt from Moga, who charged down the right flank, beat the United SC custodian only to hit the horizontal. That was 20 minutes into the second session.
Thereafter, United SC stepped up their game and reaped rewards soon with Lalkamal making it 1-0 in the 68th minute. Off a return ball from the Pune FC defence, Lalkamal unleashed a superb volley from a position near the edge of the box, deceiving goalie Abhra Mondal completely.
Having shocked the second-placed side with this strike, United SC sealed the deal with Ranty scoring the second goal six minutes before regulation time.
Deepak’s neat cross while on the overlap targeted Sankar Oraon, who failed to direct his header. Ranty who was on the prowl, then latched on to it and ensured the job was done. The victory takes United SC to No. 5 with 20 points from 14 matches, while Pune FC remain second with 28 points from 13 appearances.
United SC: Sangram Mukherjee, Dhanachandra Singh, Bello Rasaq, Gourmangi Singh, Deepak Mondal, CK Vineeth (Lester Fernandes, 80 th minute), Lalkamal Bhowmick, K. Asif, Sankar Oraon, Carlos Hernandez, Ranty Martins (Kayne Vincent, 88 th minute)
Pune FC: Abhra Mondal, Caitano Costa, Chika Wali (Daisuke Nishiguchi, 81 st minute), Anas Edathodika, Srikanth Ramu, Douhou Pierre, Mumtaz Akhtar (Shanmugam Venkatesh, 76 th minute), Karma Tsewang (Subhas Singh, 62 nd minute), Izumi Arata, Khanthang Paite, James Moga
Referee: H Khamba Singh
MoM: Lalkamal Bhowmick