Ratnam SC scored midway into the 2nd half to register a narrow 1-0 victory over St. Mary’s SC in the 2017 Premier League Division I opening week fixture played at the Kelaniya Football Complex.
One-time giants in Sri Lanka Football Ratnam SC, who were promoted to division I after being runners-up in division II in 2016, came into the match as the favourites but it was not expected to be a one-sided affair as the men from Jaffna possessed the danger and quality to cause an upset.
Geli Oya FC defeated the much fancied Ratnam SC 3-1 on penalties after the match…
Ratnam started off the better of the two teams by gaining control of the game. St. Mary’s looked agitated with the ball and gave away the possession cheaply.
However, it was St. Mary’s who registered the first shot on goal against the run of play when Sivanesan Mathivathanan pounced on a defensive error but the shot didn’t trouble the goalkeeper Shehan Silveira.
Ratnam in reply tried to go 1-0 up but Oluwasaeun Olawale’s effort could only trouble the side netting as the big defender bulldozed his way past the defender.
The 18-year-old former Hameed Al Husseinie skipper Aman Faizer was brought down in a dangerous position to earn Ratnam a glorious opportunity but P. S. Maduranga could not keep his deliciously curled shot down. Maduranga repeated his effort this time going for power over precision but the shot was wide again.
The best chance arrived to Oluwasaeun Olawale on the half an hour mark when he got into a one on one position with the St.Mary’s goalkeeper but Olawale disappointed the crowd by dragging his shot wide.
St. Mary’s tried to use the space by using the wings while Ratnam banked on their sole forward Olawale whenever the chance arose but credit to the both teams’ defenders who didn’t allow the attackers to find the net.
Half Time – Ratnam SC 0 – 0 St. Mary’s SC
Ratnam started the second half similar to the first one by gaining possession as quickly as possible. The early dominance would have ended in a goal but Aman’s volley off a rebound rattled the post but couldn’t sneak in. St. Mary’s tried to counter to tackle the onslaught and they were slowly able to gain some momentum.
The deadlock was broken in the 59th minute when Aman sent in a sharp cross into the penalty area from right half line. Mohamed Akil was at the right place at the right time as he deposited the ball inside the net.
St. Mary’s showed greater intent as they tried to level things up but the Ratnam defence stood firm, clearing whatever came their way. On the other side Olawale showed great dribbling skills to go one on one with the keeper but the St. Mary’s custodian K. Sutharshan made a world class save to keep his team in contention.
St. Mary’s tried some long-range efforts but nothing troubled the Ratnam goalkeeper. In the dying minutes, former Sri Lanka U23 player Mariyathaas Nitharsan got a header opportunity to salvage a point but his effort hit the post and bounced away.
Full Time – Ratnam SC 1 – 0 St. Mary’s SC
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – P. S. Maduranga
Talking to ThePapare.com, the victorious coach of Ratnam SC Mohideen Fazul Rahuman said;
“It was a good performance over all. The players delivered as I expected. The defence was top notch, keeping the opposite players in check. Forwards can improve but I won’t go hard on them. We will analyse and improve in the upcoming matches.”
St.Mary’s SC coach Kanagalingam Surenthiran was upbeat despite the defeat;
“First of all, travelling all the way from Jaffna and competing itself is a big challenge but the players have their best in the pitch. We had some identification issues before the match but thankfully they got sorted. Our defense played a great game by containing foreign players despite the challenges the foreigners imposed physically. Our forwards may have played better but as a team it was a commendable performance.”
Ratnam SC – Mohamed Akil 59′
Ratnam SC – Aman Faizer 59′
Ratnam SC – Mohamed Akil 60′
St. Mary’s SC – James Antony 48′, Jesuthan Amitton 76′