Mohamed Ajhmir goal gave Blue Star SC a 1-0 win against Air Force SC in week 9 of the Dialog Champions League at the Navy grounds, Welisara.
A top half of the table clash failed to live up to expectations..
Coming into the match, Blue Star, one of the dark horses for the title, were in 5th place with 17-points from 7 matches while Air Force were struggling in 10th with 8-points.
Blue Star after the ugly incident at the Vernon Fernando Stadium a month back had to play this home match at Welisara, where incidentally they have had a good record – most recently defeating Navy Sea Hawks in their opening fixture of the current season.
It was Air Force who had the lion’s share of the possession and territory, but it was Blue Star who created several goal scoring opportunities.
Initially, Mohamed Ajmeer skipped past a desperate lunge, but his second touch had too much on it allowing goalkeeper Hansana Dissanayake to rush onto it with both players colliding resulting in a long stoppage.
Thereafter Air Force had an opportunity with an indecisive Manjula Fernando off his line but Kelum Perera trying to lob it over could only shoot straight at the goalkeeper. Blue Star cleared a deep free-kick up until the edge of the box where Danushka Welgamage had his rebound effort scuffed wide of the target.
Lahiru Tharaka delivered a delightful free-kick from near the halfway line where Ireanyi Chimezie directed his header just over the crossbar, much to the agony of the Blue Star bench and the fans.
Blue Star had more reason to be frustrated as Chimezie danced past two-three defenders but his left-footed effort from an acute angle was parried away for a corner by Dissanayake.
Sloppy passing at the back by Blue Star allowed Air Force possession and a twisting and turning Kavindu Ishan shot with his left from just outside the box. However, the effort went inches over the crossbar.
Half time – Blue Star SC 0 – 0 Air Force SC
Two minutes into the 2nd half Kavindu Ishan had the ball in the back of the net for the Airmen but he was flagged for offside while Blue Star’s Tharindu Eranga only managed to hit the side netting off a free-kick from the edge of the box.
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Ishan miscued another chance before Blue Star finally managed to take the lead. Mohamed Irshan sent a ball over the defence on the right where Ajhmir had his initial effort blocked by Dissanayake. Fortunately for Ajhmir the ball got stuck under him and he somehow managed to get it over the line with the defence scrambling back.
With Air Force chasing, the game stretched from end to end. Blue Star had a corner cleared off the line and on the counter Air Force had a promising attack squandered with Kelum Perera skiing the ball over.
Blue Star twice had the chance to close the game, but poor execution and a good save denied them. Firstly, it was Uche Sunday who shot wide after dribbling into the box and the three Africans then combined to create another only to be thwarted by Dissanayake.
Towards the end, a hopeful Kavindu Ishan struck a long-range effort which swerved wide off the target as referee Nivon Robesh blew for full time sparking joyous scenes amongst the fans and players.
Full Time – Blue Star SC 1 – 0 Air Force SC
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Ebuzjnwa Chigozie (Blue Star SC)
Blue Star SC – Mohamed Ajhmir 66’
Blue Star SC – Tharindu Eranga 44’
Air Force SC – Dimuthu Lakmal Gunasinghe 80’, Dilshan Fernando 82’