Air Force ends Army’s undefeated streak

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Kavidu Ishan penalty sealed the deal as Air Force SC came from a goal back to win 2-1, ending Army SC’s unbeaten streak at the Sugathadasa Stadium.

 

 

Mohamed Issadeen scored the opener rifling a left footed effort but Nipuna Bandara made it 1-1 minutes before halftime. Bandara won his team a penalty in the latter stages which was calmly slotted in by Kavindu Ishan.

Army were on a four match unbeaten streak in the Dialog Champions League and were atop of group A with 12 points while Air Force had a mixed season winning two and drawing two while losing one with 7 points.

Air Force created a chance where Danushka Rajapakse who replaced Nilanka Kumara at the last minute had to come way off his line to block a thunderous Kavindu Ishan effort. That was the only opportunity that Air Force had in the early going as Army took hold of the match.

Issadeen was caught off-side a few times but a perfectly timed run from a Nadeeka Pushpakumara through ball saw him one on one against Ruwan Prabath and he drilled it past the goalkeeper to the far post in the 25th minute to give the lead. Issadeen was again sent through under a questionable onside call by the referee but Air Force kept the score at 1-0 with Prabath coming off his line to block the shot with his foot.  

However things changed towards the end of the first half with Air Force adopting a high-pressing game which completely derailed the Army plans. Army were constantly under pressure and were unable keep possession which worked for Air Force as they started to get back into the match.

Two minutes from half time they equalized when a miscommunication among the Army defense saw Nipuna Bandara power home a low drive. Kavindu Ishan on the left crossed the ball in-between the goalkeeper and the defense where both parties collided giving the opportunity to Bandara. In the process the goalkeeper was injured and was replaced by Nilanka Kumara.

Air Force rode on the momentum into the second half not allowing Army any breathing space and creating chances for themselves. The Air-Men had to wait until the 79th minute to reap reward when Kavindu Ishan calmly slotted a penalty. A failed clearance by the Army defense gave Bandara space inside the box and knowing a challenge was coming behind took the ball away and Sankalpa Dayawansa fell for it as he could only take out Bandara’s feet.

The match opened up from there onwards with end to end football but Air Force managed to hold on and pull off a morale boosting win.

ThePapare.com Man of the Match: Nipuna Bandara

“My plan A didn’t work so I asked them to play quick one touch passing game and also to pressure their midfield which worked excellently. Big win for us and looking to finish on a high,” Tuwan Raheem, coach of Air Force added on his change of plans which worked.   

“We were an unbeaten side so everyone wants to beat us but we didn’t play well today. The injuries today hampered us and we couldn’t make necessary changes. This loss will drive us to win next matches,” a disappointed Mohamed Fawmy told ThePapare.com.