St. Kitts halts India’s winning run with a 1-1 draw

India, however, finished on top with one win and one draw while St. Kitts & Nevis finished second with two consecutive draws.

Jackichand Singh scored India’s only goal in the match.   -  AIFF

 

Despite keeping St. Kitts & Nevis pinned to its own half and having goalkeeper Jeffers Jamal at its mercy for most part of the game, India had only solitary goal from Jackichand Singh to show for its efforts. In the 72nd minute, an audacious tap into the roof by Amory Gvaune past Subrata Paul helped St. Kitts force a draw in the concluding Tri-Nation tie.

A win over Mauritius earlier in the three-nation event allowed the host to end up on top.

The draw ended India’s nine-match winning streak which began on June 2, 2016.

The home team had a first-half goal disallowed for off-side. Striker Robin Singh, one of five replacements for India, found the crossbar blocking a tap in injury-time. The 1-1 draw was a victory of sorts for the Caribbean side, ranked 125 in the world and clearly inferior and under pressure throughout.

India’s inability to convert domination into goals forced points split. Robin, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Balwant Singh missed the chances, leaving Jackichand’s strike to be the only silver lining.

The host went ahead after a passing bout on the right flank, with overlapping wing back Pritam Kotal lifting the ball from the sideline towards team-mates lurking around the box. Jackichand looped the ball beyond the goalkeeper’s reach with a sideways header.

St. Kitts survived a scare after a chest trap and volley by Jeje was safely pushed away by the goalkeeper.

St. Kitts’ willingness to chase the ball in its own half, hard tackling and closing down of space denied India the room to build up moves in the midfield.

Balwant, included in the starting squad after a stellar show as substitute against Mauritius, got a clear look at goal but headed wide off a tantalizing floater from Holicharan.

Jeje was felled around the box, resulting in a free-kick. Eugeneson Lyngdoh tried an indirect route, the ball rolled to Narayan Das for a crack at target. St Kitts custodian Jamal covered the angle for a block by diving to his left. Balwant appeared at the right spot to tap in a pass back, but the referee blew for off-side.

Jamal, under the St. Kitts bar, was kept busy by Indian forwards, but survived attempts from Jeje — tapping wide on the run near the right post — and then substitute Robin whose left-footed placement bounced back into play off the goalkeeper’s body.

St. Kitts ended up with two points from two draws (Mauritius and India).

Scores: India 1 (Jackichand Singh 39) drew with St Kitts 1 (Amory Gvaune 72).

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