De Mazenod College skipper Pramuditha Gunasekara secured a brace in regular time and slotted in the winning penalty to give his team a thrilling come from behind win over St. Benedict’s College, Kotahena in the Nihal Mendis Memorial Trophy at the De Mazenod College grounds in Kandana.

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At 1-3 down early in the 2nd half, De Mazenod looked down and out but a 2nd half comeback spear-headed by their skipper saw them equalize and then go on to win 4-3 on penalties against the visiting St. Benedict’s side.

The game, reduced to 30 minutes per half, started off in rapid pace, with the Mazenodians taking the lead in just the 2nd minute. The home side were awarded a free kick a few meters beyond the box and skipper Gunasekara took full advantage, smashing a long range shot into the back of the net.

From that point onwards, it was all St. Benedict’s as the boys in green began to settle into the game. The Benedictines came back through their playmaker Shenal Kavinda just three minutes after conceding the 1st goal as the scores stood at 1-1 just 5 minutes into the match.

Some end to end football followed with both teams squandering half chances before the Bens scored via their forward Mohamed Kurshith from just outside the box in the 17th minute.

The home team thought they had the equalizer when Oshan Madushanka slotted the ball into the back of the net after receiving a brilliant through ball from Avishka Deshan but the goal was ruled offside.

The Bens dominated possession from that point on until the end of the half but could not extend their lead further.

Half Time – De Mazenod College 1 – 2 St. Benedict’s College

The turning point of the match came in the 32nd minute of play when the hosts’ Avishka crashed into the St. Benedict’s goalkeeper well after the latter had collected a Mazenodian cross. Avishka had already received a yellow in the dying minutes of the 1st half and was shown the 2nd for this challenge and sent off by the referee.

Despite going down to 10 men, the Mazenodians were dominant from that point on but a short corner caught them unawares and saw Kavinda loop one over the goalkeeper and a desperate goal line clearance attempt from a defender could not stop the visitors going ahead 1-3.

The home team continued to push and got their opening when Ranjan Shodarshan brought down Gunasekara inside the box. He made no mistake with the penalty to cut the Bens lead back to 1 goal.

A poor clearance by the Benedictine defense gave the home team the opportunity they had been waiting for and Nimshan Soysa smashed a volley past the goalie to level the game with 3 minutes to go, where it stayed until the full-time whistle was blown.

Full Time – De Mazenod College 3 – 3 St. Benedict’s College

The penalty shootout brought with it its own drama. Both teams had no trouble with their first two shots but St. Benedict’s No. 9 Harein Fernando missed the team’s 3rd penalty and Brayon Abishek missed the 4th as De Mazenod lead 3-2 in the shootout. Isuru Silva missed De Mazenod’s 4th to give the visitors some hope but skipper Pramuditha Gunasekara calmly slotted in the final penalty of the game to give the home side the win.

Goal Scorers

De Mazenod College – Pramuditha Gunasekara 2’ & 40’, Nimshan Soysa 57’

St. Benedict’s College – Shenal Kavinda 5’ & 38’, Mohamed Kurshith 17’

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