IWL: SSB pip Alakhpura to keep semifinal qualification hopes alive

SSB’s women football team kept its chances for semifinal qualification alive after eking out a slender 1-0 victory over FC Alakhpura in the Indian Women’s League here Monday.

In the day’s other match, resilient Panjim Footballers held on to a 1-1 draw against Rising Student Club of Odisha at the Guru Nanak Stadium.

SSB striker Dular Marandi scored the winner, but it was their defender and captain Susmita Marandi, who took the Player of the Match award with her gutsy play to keep Alakhpura out.

It was a tight game between two equally-matched sides, with long spells of the game being played out in the middle of the park. However, SSB got the lead early on through forward Marandi.

The Jharkhand-born striker chased what was literally a lost cause, as an aerial ball was played in behind the Alakhpura defence. Goalkeeper Neelam rushed out of her line, but Marandi reached the ball just nanoseconds before her and slipped it past the Alakhpura keeper to put SSB in the lead.

That gave SSB some impetus as they looked to dominate play in the middle of the park, but Alkhpura also matched them with their brute strength, though the side from Haryana seemed to lack the final pass that would set up their strikers.

In the other game, Karishma Shirvoikar had scored for Panjim early on, but Satyabati Khadia equalised for RSC just before the half time break. Panjim goalkeeper Ashika Gadekar was adjudged Player of the Match for her heroics under the bar.