Delhi FC and Kenkre FC garnered one point apiece following the 1-1 draw at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Wednesday, October 20. Following the result, Kenkre rose to the top of the table with four points from two games while Delhi FC opened their account having played as many games.
Two second-half goals from Kiran Pandhare and Sergio Barboza helped Kenkre FC and Delhi FC respectively get on the score sheet.
Delhi FC in order to obtain all three points from the contest started with winger Himanshu Jangra playing upfront. Kenkre FC, on the other hand, started with their regular line-up.
The first bright spark of the match came in the 6th minute when Kenkre FC left-winger Azfar Noorani swung in a high cross for his striker Ranjeet Singh. The dangerous cross caused a clash in the box as Delhi FC defender Karandeep Singh picked up a knock in the tussle and played the remainder of the game with his head taped to protect himself.
Delhi FC had their first of a string of chances to take the lead in the 12th minute when Nikhil Mali beat the offside trap to run behind Kenkre FC’s high defensive line and latch onto a pass by Anwar Ali. Nikhil strode into the opposition box but goalkeeper Tenzin Samdup saved the winger’s attempt. Laiwang Bohham latched onto the rebound with a fantastic chance to score, but the winger skied his attempt.
Three minutes later, defender Karandeep Singh received a pass back from a short corner to swing in a cross which was met at the near post by Delhi FC captain Anwar Ali, but the centre back, who has 3 goals to his name in the tournament, could not keep his header on target. Kenkre FC goalkeeper Tenzin Samdup remained a busy man in the first half and had to be called upon again in the 25th minute to make an impressive double save off Himanshu Jangra.
The first half finished with Delhi FC dominating possession and leading in the goal attempts statistic comfortably, but the all-important breakthrough was yet to arrive for either side.
Four minutes to the hour-mark, Dead-ball specialist Arvind Rajan flighted in a cross towards the far post which was converted by midfielder Kiran Pandhare who was left unmarked.
All of Delhi FC’s progressive play at this point in the second half came from the left flank with Nikhil Mali at the heart of the action. Delhi FC came agonisingly close to scoring in the 72nd minute after some good build-up play down the left flank again before Gagandeep Bali’s shot on the turn was cleared off the line by Arvind Rajan.
Delhi FC were handed a lifeline in the 78th minute as they were awarded a penalty for handball inside the box by Kenkre FC defender Zacharie Mbenda, whose outstretched arm blocked Sergio Barboza’s goalbound effort. The Brazilian stepped up to take the spot-kick and made no mistake to slot the ball past Tenzin after a stuttered run-up.
As Delhi FC committed more players in the attack to score the winner, Kenkre FC exploited the vacated space to repeatedly break on the counterattack. Substitute Yash Mhatre could have put the game to bed for his side on a couple of occasions, including an audacious effort from behind the halfway line which was saved with some difficulty by Delhi FC goalkeeper Suraj Mallick. On the other side, Delhi FC came close to going ahead from a catastrophic own goal by Zacharie Mbenda, who made amends for the initial mix-up by clearing the ball off the line.
Kenkre FC will take on Rajasthan United FC on the final match day on Saturday, October 23 besides Delhi FC who will challenge Madan Maharaj FC on the same day.