Mohamed Nafrees was the hero for Pelicans SC as they drew 1-1 against Navy Sea Hawks FC in their Dialog Champions League 2018, week 6 fixture at the Navy Grounds, Welisara.
Navy Sea Hawks came into this match in 5th position with 7 points while Pelicans were one place above the relegation zone in 16th with just 1 point. Brilliant goalkeeping by Mohamed Nafrees and poor finishing by Sea Hawks cost the Sea Hawks 3 precious points.
Veteran striker R.M.J.D. Rathnayake scored a hat trick..
The clash had a delayed kick-off under rainy conditions, which only worsened towards the middle of the half. The bad weather meant poor ground and playing conditions with water logged in many areas of the ground.
Sea Hawks dominated play early on, with most of the play taking place in and around the Pelicans box. It paid off for the hosts when in the 7th minute, their skipper Chathuranga Sanjeewa got the ball just outside the box, and with a powerful strike found the right corner to open the scoring.
Thereafter Mohamed Sapri free-kick was met by an Emmanuel Lartey downward header towards goal, but the wet conditions saw the ball slowing, giving enough time for the Sea Hawks defender to clear the ball.
The 22nd minute saw Pelicans win a free-kick right on the edge of the opposition box. Sapri struck it well right into the corner, giving goalkeeper Sachintha Reginold no chance, equalizing the game.
The goal brought Pelicans back into the game as they mounted attacks of their own midway through the first half however, poor finishing saw the opportunities squandered.
A Mohamed Asmeer effort from the edge of the box had Pelicans goalkeeper Mohamed Nafrees react quickly and pulled off a world-class save, but the flag had been raised for offside regardless.
Sea Hawks had another goal disallowed after Nafrees pulled off another good save from a Mohamed Shaheel effort and the rebound was headed in by Danushka Madushanka from an offside position.
Half Time – Navy Sea Hawks FC 1 – 1 Pelicans SC
Pelicans got the first chance of the half but Reginold got down quick and produced a save off a Cobbinah Godfred strike. Soon after Madushanka that had Nafrees beaten, but the resilient Pelicans defender blocked it off the line.
Madushanka then struck a good free-kick, which had the ball flying towards the top corner, but Nafrees yet again produced another stunning save to tip the ball just wide of the post. As the half wore on both sides battled equally hard, with chances coming at either end with neither side being able to get the finishing touch.
Lartey continued to look threatening for the Pelicans and just past the hour mark, broke through the Sea Hawks defence but Reginold read the situation well producing the save.
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Nafrees continued to impress producing numerous saves to keep his side on level terms, Sea Hawks had the opportunity to steal the winner right at the end of the game, but it was squandered wide.
Full Time – Navy Sea Hawks FC 1 – 1 Pelicans SC
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Mohamed Nafrees (Pelicans SC)
Navy Sea Hawks FC – Chathuranga Sanjeewa 7’
Pelicans SC – Mohamed Sapri 22’
Navy Sea Hawks FC – A.G.P. Sanjeewa 20’
Pelicans SC – K.G.L.D Karunasinghe 28’, Mohamed Sapri 50’