Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU FC) kept the chances of finishing third in the I-League alive with a 4-2 victory over relegated Mumbai Kenkre FC at the Cooperage Stadium here on Monday, March 6. If they win their last match and Gokulam Kerala drop points, the Imphal side will take on the eighth-placed side of the league on April 5 in the Super Cup.
The final score looks comfortable for coach Leimapokpam Nandakumar Singh, but the win did not come easy. His boys fell behind twice but came strongly on both occasions and turned the match on its head, scoring three goals within 13 minutes of each other.
The home team went ahead in the 11th minute as Nigerian forward Francis Nwankwo headed in Ranjeet Pandre’s long cross from the right wing. But the joy was shortlived as TRAU hit back just two minutes later. Their Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho’s scorching left-footer from outside the box hit the lower part of the crossbar and landed in the net to make it 1-1.
A bit of luck went Mumbai Kenkre FC’s way early in the second half as a TRAU defender handled Pandre’s cross inside the box. Samandar Ochilov made no mistake in making it 2-1 from the spot. It took TRAU 12 minutes to equalise again. This time Fernandinho’s corner from the right flank was headed by his countryman Gerson Vieira but it hit the post. Baoringdao Bodo put the rebound into the net. He scored his second and the team’s third in the 73rd minute with a header off Fernandinho’s cross from the left.
The final nail in Kenkre FC’s coffin came from substitute Buanthanglun Samte in the 79th minute. Kenkre goalkeeper Padam Chettri did manage to get a hand to Samte’s left-footer from outside the box. But it had too much power to be stopped. Kenkre were saved from further embarrassment in stoppage time as Bidyananda Singh’s shot hit the post.
With this win, TRAU FC are on 32 points – just one behind third-placed Gokulam Kerala FC.