Minerva Academy FC put up a tremendous amount of skill and pace to dismantle table toppers, Pune based I-league club, DSK Shivajians 2-1 in their 3rd and most important encounter here at the Ambedkar Stadium, New Delhi.
The Chandigarh based team came with two changes in the line up as Striker Girik Khosla was replaced by India U19 winger Moinuddin and Akash Sangwan was rested in favour of star striker Manandeep Singh who is back from a suspension.
The Minervans lost the toss to DSK Shivajians but started attacking from minute go and had the upper hand throughout the game. Minerva’s Right back Kamalpreet Singh and Left back Akashdeep Singh displayed some beautiful footwork down the flanks and produced some wonderful assists for striker Manandeep Singh whose effort missed the cross bar by inches. Minervans continued the attacks and kept pressing down the opponents backline. Their pace and skill was difficult to match for the DSK Shivajians defenders who produced some harsh tackles and eventually conceded a yellow card in the 9th minute of the game. However DSK Shivajians tackles didn’t bother the physically tough Minervan players as they continued to make some beautiful chances to score with former Churchill man Jaison Vales and Amandeep Singh anchoring from the midfield and Strikers Manandeep and Guam international Marcus moving past DSK Shivajians defenders swiftly. Minervans played some beautiful football today which was a treat to watch for the spectators as they efficiently used their wingers and their back four to open up the game. Minerva’s Nigerian import Victor Amboi’s run down the flanks disorganised the DSK Shivajians defence formation and strikers Manandeep Singh and Marcus Lopez making the best of it. In the next couple of minutes a few crackers from Manandeep too hit the woodwork and his dribbling in the box and fine touches too created some beautiful chances for himself and his teammates but again it looked like lady luck wasn’t in their favour.The game went into the half time with both teams failing to open their account.
The second half saw a couple of changes as Minerva’s winger Moinuddin was substituted in favour of former Dempo SC man Steven Fernandes. The second half saw both teams sharing equal possession for the first 20 minutes and playing end-to-end football. DSK Shivajians broke the deadlock in the 60th minute when the referee awarded a penalty for a slight push on the DSK striker from Minervan defender Akashdeep Singh leaving the crowd surprised. DSK Shivajians’ Spanish midfield maestro Juan Quero stepped up to the spot and converted the penalty. DSK Shivajians went up leading 1-0 to a dominating Minervan side.
A determined Minervan team, though disappointed with the referees decision, didn’t lose hope and went roaring, starting from where they left off. Guam international Marcus was replaced in favour of Ivorian Lago Dagbo who was brought in to reshape the blues attack. Fresh footed Lago brought in results from the very first minute he stepped onto the field, as he produced some numerous chances for Manandeep whose crackers went brushing past the posts. A Roaring Minervan attack left no stone unturned and were deservingly rewarded with an equaliser when striker Manandeep Singh swifted past DSK Shivajians defenders to produce a perfect cross for Lago who stuck his neck out with strong intent and headed the ball into the left corner of the goal while diving, leaving the DSK keeper with no chance. Minerva had got back into the game with the score now reading 1-1. Lago’s equaliser brought out a fire from the young minervans who then started off all over again with some beautiful passes in the centre of the park feeding the wingers who produced some amazing crosses to their strikers only to be cleared off by DSK defenders. Minervans then held possession for most of the time keeping the DSK players on the back foot and busy with defence. DSK did produce a long range shot to its wingers but strict, no-nonsense defending by Minervan Right back Kamalpreet Singh and Defensive midfielder Amandeep Singh didn’t allow DSK to score. Jarmanjit Singh and Gagandeep Singh who were at the heart of Minervan defence too put up a notable performances today by not letting anything get past them. Minerva U-16 keeper Shamsher Singh also displayed fine character on the field.
The Minervans were desperate for a win and finally in the 90th minute, the Minervans’ hardwork and dedication was rewarded when Ivorian Lago fed striker Manandeep on top of the box who dribbled past the DSK defender facing him and took a shot which was saved by the keeper only to land on Manadeep’s chest again and this time the alert striker controlled the ball perfectly and smashed it straight into the back of the net to give the lads from Chandigarh a much deserving lead in the final minutes of the game. After three minutes of added time, the referee blew the whistle and the crowd and players bench rejoiced as Minerva had beaten DSK Shivajians 2-1 and secured their first victory in the Durand Cup.
Minerva Academy FC bagged all 3 points as they defeated table toppers DSK Shivajians leaving the group wide open and unpredictable. Minerva Academy FC now have a total of 4 points in their kitty.
Minerva Academy FC next face goan powerhouse and I-league giants Sporting Club De Goa in their most important encounter on 6th September at 4.00 PM in Ambedkar Stadium.