Amandeep's goal takes JCT to the final

Special Correspondent
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Amandeep settled the issue for JCT. — Photo: Sandeep Saxena
Amandeep settled the issue for JCT. — Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Churchill Brothers did all the attacking. But JCT scored in the 101st minute, from a calculated counterattack, to make it to the Durand Cup final here.

Amandeep Singh was the star for the Phagwara outfit. He followed a loose ball, wove in from the left, only to confront a situation that required presence of mind. Amandeep had it in abundance. He coolly chipped the ball over a hesitant Vinay Singh and JCT, against the run of play, was through to its 12th final.

Ironically, it was Churchill which came close to scoring many times in the listless encounter. Moments before it succumbed to Amandeep's brilliance, Churchill should have forged ahead but JCT goalkeeper Pawan Kumar showed fine anticipation in blocking Odafe Okolie's curling free-kick to his right.

Earlier too, the best goal-scoring opportunity had come to Okolie but shockingly he let it go. Latching on to a splendid ball from M.P. Zakeer, the burly Nigerian broke into the box, had a fleeting view of the narrow corridor in front and produced a scorching drive. It was powerful but awry. JCT truly escaped a dent in the dying moments of the game.

JCT had just one good move in the first session when Daniel Bidemi flicked the ball to Maninder Singh, but the finish was not worthy of a goal. The move, however, gave misleading indications of JCT's form this evening. It was inconsistent, as JCT, after the initial flourish, failed to maintain the momentum.

In the first half, Churchill's first and only close look at the JCT goal was a back-volley by Okolie. It was a most forgettable session.

Tight marking meant pressure on the strikers to produce individual brilliance but there was not a moment when the goalkeepers were hustled. Okolie did not show the sharpness that marks his movements and Ibrahim Keke too failed to raise his game a notch for JCT.

The second half began with Churchill creating a few good moves. A long drive by Israil Gurung beat the JCT goalkeeper but hit the bar and Okolie fumbled with the rebound. A back header by Durga Boro evoked a good save by Pawan.

The lack of response from the spectators was a sore point. Old-timers could not recall empty galleries for a Durand semifinal. The tournament's reputation has taken a beating over the years but even JCT struggling to garner support in the stands only reflected upon the lacklustre stuff on display in this edition of one of the world's oldest tournaments.

The result: JCT 1 (Amandeep Singh) bt Churchill Brothers 0 .

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