Defending Champions Army SC came out 2-0 winners against SLTB SC in the quarter final of the Vantage FA Cup 2018 at the Sugathadasa Stadium.
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Army came into the quarter finals after a 3-0 victory over New Star SC, while SLTB SC after a 1-1 draw in regular time held their nerve to beat Uruthirapuram SC 4-2 on penalties to qualify.
The first chance for Army came in the 10th minute when a ball crossed into the box found Mohamed Issadeen who tapped it in for what should have been the opener if not for a brilliant last-ditch goal line clearance by W.A.P.N. Madushanka.
Army blundered yet another opportunity when Niroshan Pathirana was through on goal, but SLTB skipper Sudesh Suranga rushed off his line and made a good save but Madushan De Silva could only fire wide at an open goal off the rebound.
Army unsurprisingly struck first blood when Issadeen’s attempt was brilliantly pushed onto the crossbar by Suranga, but the rebound fell kindly to Kasun Pradeep who made no mistakes scoring into an unattended goal.
Suranga, leading from the front, continued his outstanding performance as he produced two saves in quick succession. He pushed an effort from Issadeen out for a corner, before brilliantly blocking a header from the resulting corner. Suranga wrapped up the first half pulling off a stunning save to deny a De Silva header.
Half Time – Army SC 1 – 0 SLTB SC
Army found the back of the net four minutes into the second half through Issadeen, but the goal was questionably deemed offside. Shanmugaraja Sanjeev finally gave SLTB their first shot at goal of the match, just past the hour mark with a strike from outside the box, but it resulted in an easy save for Mohamed Luthifi.
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SLTB had a ball crossed into the box which seemed to have been handled by an Army defender, but the referee was unmoved despite the loud appeals of the SLTB players and fans.
The 70th minute saw Army double their advantage. Sankalpa Dayawansa struck in a corner kick which skipper Bandara Warakagoda, who stood in for the injured regular captain Sajith Kumara, got a powerful header to guide it into the back of the net.
SLTB unlike in the first half had more possession in the second, and looked more dangerous. They however lacked the cutting edge as majority of their attacks fizzled out in the final third.
SLTB got a few attempts towards goal, namely Nilantha Jayaweera’s shot from the edge of the box that flew just over the crossbar followed by a corner which Jayaweera headed towards goal, but Luthifi was up for the task and produced a good save.
Full Time – Army SC 2 – 0 SLTB SC
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Bandara Warakagoda (Army SC)
Army SC – Kasun Pradeep 30’, Bandara Warakagoda 70’
SLTB SC – W.A.L. Dinara 31’, Shanmugaraja Sanjeev 54’, A.D.Madumal 63’, B.R. Chanaka 82’