BANGALORE: Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club (HASC) is a step away from making it to the 30th Federation Cup football tournament at Kolkata.
In a match that barely rose above mediocre levels, the local Senior Division champion scraped past Pune FC through R.C. Prakash’s strike in the preliminary knockout round of group B, at the football stadium here on Tuesday.
In the process HASC avenged its loss to Pune FC in the NFL second division qualifiers at Pune last season.
Playing in front of its supporters, HASC was mostly on the back foot against the sustained pressure from the visitor.
Marshalled by S. Venkatesh, besides goalkeeper N. Balaji, the Pune outfit stretched the HASC defence but lacked the firepower to get goals.
Jeje Lalpekhva came by a couple of sharp chances but failed to direct it goalwards.
For HASC, Dada Nabeel and Nigerian Fredrick Okwagbe seemed to play well within themselves despite some fine promptings from the midfield.
With the action mostly confined to the midfield for most of the first session a moment of brilliance was needed and it came in the 37th minute.
A Rajendra Prasad flag-kick was gathered by Prakash who neatly made space and bulged the net. Another chance came by HASC’s way just before the half-time. However, Okwagbe failed to direct his header properly off a Rajendra Prasad centre.
In the second session, Pune FC brought in Crispin Chetri and Shanta Kumar, and towards the end Sandesh Gadkari also, but to no avail.
Pune FC had a close shave when Xavier Vijaykumar, who otherwise had a modest outing, shot into the far upright with only goalkeeper Balaji to beat after being put through by substitute Karthigeyan.
At the other end, medio Asim Hassan showed deft footwork before firing a right-footer which just flew past the far post much to the relief of HASC custodian Amar Deb. HASC will now take on the winner of the clash between Viva Kerala and ICF (Chennai) on Friday.