Brilliant Kaveesh keeps Colombo’s title hope alive

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Kaveesh Lakpriya Fernando produced two world class saves in the latter stages as Colombo FC kept their pursuit of a hat-trick of championships alive  with a nervy 2-1 win over Air Force SC at the Kelaniya Football Complex.

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With three game-weeks left, the match started with Colombo (30 pts), playing their game in hand, six points behind leaders Renown SC and Air Force SC, their title chances hanging by a thread, further six points adrift in third.

Air Force were without three of their key defenders in Nuskan Mohamed (centre-back), Harsha Fernando (left-back) and Dimuthu Lakmal Gunasinghe (right-back) while the full-strength Colombo FC were raring to go after an unexpected week-long break due to the unavailability of referees.

From the onset, the hosts were clearly on top and piled the pressure on the Airmens make-shift defenders. Ismail Abumere scored early on cashing in on a defensive mistake but the celebrations were cut short with the linesman at the far end raising his flag for off-side. They would go onto miss a couple of chances before Abumere eventually added value to the pressure converting a cross from close range.

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With their go to man and highest goal scorer Kavindu Ishan hounded by defenders, Air Force lacked finesse in the attacking third. The only effort came from range, where an airborne Fernando had to parry it to a corner from a Kolitha Lankesara shot.

Half time – Colombo FC 1 – 0 Air Force SC

After a stern half time talk, it took only fifteen seconds for Air Force to score in the 2nd half. The visitors dispossessed Rawme Mohideen in midfield and after a neat one-two Danushka Welgamage scrambled home the equalizer.

Air Force looked a different side from the first half as they negated the Colombo FC threat and created chances of their own. Colombo’s Zarwan Johar misdirected a near post header before Kaveesh Fernando was called into action when Nipuna Bandara lobbed a left footed volley off a rebound corner from the edge of the box. Peddling back, Fernando managed to get a hand to the ball to steer it over the goal.

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Brilliance on one end was followed by a horrific judgement on the other. Air Force goalkeeper Ruwan Arunasiri made a mess of a routine collection from a cross by diving over which allowed Buddhika Perera, who had come on a few minutes earlier, to tap into an empty net much to the relief of the defending champions.

Colombo needed one last save from Fernando – as a 40 yard Lankesara effort, which was just about crashing under the crossbar, was punched away for a corner.

Full time – Colombo FC 2 – 1 Air Force SC

ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Kaveesh Fernando

Goal Scorers

Colombo FC – Ismail Abumere 15’, Buddhika Perera 69’

Air Force SC – Danushka Welgamage 46’