A 55th minute howler by Kumaon keeper Manas, who couldn’t hold on to a cross in the box, gifted Vindhyachal a draw, leaving the opposition bamboozled and frustrated. Vindhyachal came into the match with confident with their defence
, who had not conceded a single goal in any of their three previous games; but they were wary of the dangerous Kumaon attack of Markus, Ankit and Ashim, which had thrashed Nilgiri 4-0. The game began with Kumaon quickly settling into their high-tempo game, creating immense pressure on the Vindy defence who calmly dealt with it. They were content with clearing any dangerous passes by Kumaon, and not creating any attacks of their own. The quality of Ashim and Kanishk was clearly on show with their crisp, intelligent passing and high work rate. Kumaon were focusing most of their attacks towards Markus, the burly Frenchman, who gave the Vindy defence a tough time with his strength and height. He came very close to scoring in the 30th minute, when a great corner by Ashim was headed by Harsh on the post and Markus shot the rebound over the bar. Vindy finally got a breather as the referee blew for half time.
Kumaon’s hard work paid off two minutes after the restart; Ashim with a pinpoint Gerrard-esque ball over the Vindy defenders and into the path of Markus, who took a touch to control and then finished coolly into the bottom right corner. Vindy almost conceded a second in the next minute, but for a goal line clearance by Ratnesh. The next few minutes was a game of cat and mouse, with Kumaon creating chance after chance, and Vindy putting their bodies on the line to stop them. Ashim was a delight to watch, dribbling past three players in the 46th minute and laying it for Harsh who blazed over. Just as Kumaon felt their job was done, Vindy snatched the ball after some sloppy passing, and Ratnesh delivered a high ball in the box. The keeper came out to grab it, but spilled it in front of a lingering Amit Meena, who made no mistake prodding it into the net, sending the desolated Vindy camp into wild cheers. Kumaon desperately tried to get back their lead, and could have done so in the last minute with another fantastic free kick from Ashim, which Markus wastefully shot over the bar. Vindy were jubilant with unexpected draw, while the embarrassment and disappointment was evident in the Kumaon camp.
-Report By Mihik Agrawal