Monday, Apr 08, 2002
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Needing a big win to keep its hopes alive in the championship, the host frittered away chances including a penalty, against the gritty Pondicherry side.
Pondicherry's goalkeeper Irisappan was a one-man army who denied Kerala from registering a handsome win. It must also be mentioned that the Kerala forwards did not distinguish themselves with their poor marksmanship.
Kerala set up a furious pace at the start and went ahead in the eighth minute through K. Anees. The striker after trapping a lob from Bijish Ben chipped it over the advancing goalkeeper Irisappan.
However, the anticipated rout did not happen as Kerala forwards, especially Barun Chandran, lacked ideas inside the rival penalty box.
In between, Kerala captain R. Rajesh missed the easiest chance his team got in the first half. The striker, after evading the offside trap, had only the goalkeeper to beat but his shot was parried away by Irisappan for a corner. However, the striker made up for his earlier miss by conjuring up a dream move which saw him beat three defenders and the goalkeeper to score the second goal in the 59th minute.
Then luck came to the aid of Pondicherry on more than one ocassion. In the 65th minute a header by Charles Pereira rebounded off the bar and Bijish Ben and Charles Pereira could only watch in dismay as their shots found the goalkeeper's body rather than the goal. Kerala's agony was complete when Sumesh muffed a penalty kick in the 88th minute.
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