Saunders SC and Air Force SC had to settle for a 0-0 draw, where tempers were on boiling point, in a 2017 Dialog Champions League week 3 fixture played at the Kelaniya Football Complex.
Air Force SC started the match at a rapid pace as they created three opportunities inside the opening quarter.
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The attacks came from the left flank where Harsha Fernando and Kavindu Ishan operated. Kavindu Ishan brought the game to life with a marauding run but Mohamed Nuslan could only sky the ball over from the cutback.
Saunders goalkeeper Asanka Viraj did well to stop a one on one situation against Nipuna Bandara. On another occasion D.K.Duminda arrived late as a vicious cross went unmet.
The Price Park boys slowed the pace of the game as they took control of the game towards the latter stages of the first half. Air Force goalkeeper Ruwan Arunasiri was brought into play as he made a one handed save to parry away a corner opportunity.
D.K.Duminda and Harsha Fernando of Air Force and Chrishantha Abeysekara of Saunders SC got a yellow card each as the match looked as if it would have a red card as the game went on.
Half Time – Saunders SC 0 – 0 Air Force SC
Saunders built on the momentum they had near half time and Chrishantha Abeysekara tried his luck from the edge of the box but the effort was safely pouched by the goalkeeper. Kasun Jayasuriya, who was sent through on goal found the side netting with Arunasiri off his line.
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Saunders bottled two free kick opportunities in dangerous area hitting them both straight into the wall. Lakmal Gunasinghe put his body on the line to divert the ball over the bar which looked like a certain goal for Saunders after the goalkeeper made a mess of a routine handling.
On a rare occasion Asanka Viraj, who had a good game between the sticks, misread a long range low drive from Harsha Fernando which fortunately hit the outside of the up-right and went out.
For Saunders the center-back pairing of former Sri Lanka cap Dumidu Hettiarachchi and Sanjuka Priyadarshana had a solid game weathering the initial Air Force attack to lead a stubborn defensive line.
Both teams were reduced to ten men after Saunders skipper Chanuka Eranga and Lakmal Gunasinghe swung elbows at each other in an off the ball incident. Kavindu Ishan had one last chance when he cut back in but he could only drag his shot just wide of the near post.
Full Time – Saunders SC 0 – 0 Air Force SC
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Dumidu Hettiarachchi (Saunders SC)
Speaking to ThePapare.com, both the coaches showed their dissatisfaction with the condition of the grounds.
The coach of Air Force SC Sampath Perera;
“It was a very open game. Both teams had chances. It could have gone to any side. But the pitch condition was very poor. There was not enough security for the referee as well as players to do their job without any hindrance. The attack was not good from our side. Yet to score a goal in the tournament. We are expecting a player from Pakistan as recruitment.”
The coach of Saunders SC, Sumith Walpola;
“It was a shame that we had to play today in these conditions. Because of the condition there were so many tackles and cards. The injury threat was too high. As a team we had our chances. The players did well to do well on this pitch. The experienced players stepped up today. Not satisfied with the result but it could have gone either way so we will take it. But without a proper ground with suitable condition, the teams can’t showcase their real talent.”
Saunders SC – Chrishantha Abeysekara 34’
Air Force SC – Harsha Fernando 29′, DK Duminda 37’
Saunders SC – Chanuka Eranga 73’
Air Force SC – Lakmal Gunasinghe 73’