By Pune FC Media

PUNE: Pune FC missed chances aplenty as they played out a thrilling 2-2 draw against local side DSK Shivajians FC in a Round-3 Maharashtra Zone encounter at the Pune FC Training Pitches in Mamurdi on Monday.

In a game of equal exchanges, Pune FC took the lead through skipper Sanchayan Sammader (25th minute) before a brace from striker Lallianzuala (26th & 45th) gave DSK Shivajians a 2-1 lead at half time. Substitute Amos Lalnienga (61st) then levelled scores for Pune FC in the second half with a piece of individual brilliance.

The draw means both sides continue to share top spot in the Maharashtra Zone with seven points each after three games.

Going into the high intensity game, Pune FC Coach Naushad Moosa was forced to make four changes to the lineup handing first starts to goalkeeper Shainkhan, defenders Gaurav Bora and Gursimrat Singh along with medio Muirang W.

The game began with some end to end action with both sides attacking frequently. While Pune FC went close through striker Lalawmpuia on multiple occasions, the visitors too had a couple of chances of their own but were denied by the home side’s defense.

After creating several half chances, Pune FC finally broke the deadlock in the 25th minute. Striker Lalawampuia was hacked down yards outside the box by Shivajians custodian Shubham Dhas on a counter attack. The referee showed Shubham just a yellow card and awarded Pune FC a freekick for what should have been a sending off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Nonetheless, skipper Sanchayan stepped up and curled home a powerful freekick from 25-yards out for his first goal of the campaign.

However, Pune FC’s lead lasted just a minute as the visitors pulled level almost immediately. A defensive error allowed Shivajians to counter from the left and while the home side’s defense managed to block the first attempt, the stray ball fell for Lallianzuala who scored from close range.

Thereafter both sides were engaged in end-to-end action creating chances aplenty. While Shivajians were denied by the crossbar on one occasion, Pune FC were constantly denied by the rival custodian with striker Lalawmpuia missing two chances from close. First his header off Sannik’s cross was blocked and then the striker hammered straight into the keeper from five-yards after being sent through by medio Omega Vanlalhruaitluanga.

Into the final minutes of the half, Pune FC conceded once again after another defensive error down the middle. The rivals capitalised after Pune FC lost the ball on the halfline and set on a counter with Lallianzuala slotting home his second.

Going into the breather, Pune FC trailed 1-2.

The second half saw Pune FC come out as a determined lot. They pushed ahead constantly with intent looking for the equaliser and almost got it seven minutes after the restart.

Sannik Murmu burst free on the right flank on a counter attack and managed to find substitute Amos, on for Muirang, inside the box. The attacker laid off for Lalawmpuia who timed his run well but was denied after his shot was cleared off the goalline by a defender.

Pune FC continued to push ahead and had another chance to level scores when the rival custodian held on to the ball for a long time and the hosts were awarded an indirect freekick inside the box. Skipper Sanchayan stepped up and blasted the attempt which was blocked by the wall.

Two minutes later, Pune FC finally equalised after some brilliant work by Amos. The attacker controlled a ball outside the box down the middle, held off challenges from three defenders before turning and drilling a low shot past the keeper to score for the third consecutive game.

The goal gave Pune FC much needed boost as they pushed ahead in numbers attacking through Sannik, Lalawmpuia and Amos but were falling short in the final third.

The home side almost pulled ahead in the 79th minute after some intelligent play. Defender Sahil Panwar released Sannik on the left flank on a quick freekick. The winger floated in a dangerous cross which came off the horizontal after the keeper managed to palm it.

Into the final minutes, Pune FC survived a scare as Shivajians’ striker Jesse blasted wide from close. However, the home side too had a chance of their own to seal a win in injury time but Lalawmpuia’s pass in the box found no takers as the game ended 2-2.