Sandesh Sigdel, Kathmandu
An Afeez Olawale goal in the second minute of the match guided Dhangadhi FC to a narrow win against FC Chitwan, taking them to the top of the Nepal Super League table. Olawale’s cross-turned-goal early on in the match was enough for the men in yellow to get all three points.
Chitwan head coach Mehrajuddin Wadoo made two changes to his side, with Roshan Rana Magar replaced by Nawayug Shrestha and Hem Tamang stepping in for the suspended Utsav Rai. Dhangadhi, on the other hand, made three changes, including a goalkeeper switch as Tikendra Singh Thapa replaced the error-prone Mohammad Taha.
The match kicked off with an early offside call against Dhangadhi after Torric’s mispass led to a pass from Ahmad Hijazi to Olawale, but he was given offside. However, the tides quickly turned in the second minute when Olawale, seemingly attempting a cross from the right, surprised everyone with a lob over Chitwan skipper Bishal Shrestha handing Dhangadhi the lead.
Chitwan replicated their usual self as in the previous matches, having possession and reaching the final third but in vain. However, they were awarded with a huge opportunity to equalize late in the first half after Richard Agyemang’s handball inside the box handed them a penalty. But to Chitwan’s bad fortunes, Bimal Gharti Magar’s spot-kick was saved by Tikendra.
Tikendra seemed faultless in the second half as well but Chitwan weren’t creating enough problems for him to deal with. On the other hand, Dhangadhi failed to double their lead in the 58th minute after Chhring Gurung’s defensive lapse gifted Olawale an opportunity but his pass after going around Bishal Shrestha resulted in an open-goal miss by Aashish Chaudhary.
The second half saw both teams squandering scoring opportunities but Chitwan looked more agitated as the match went on. Aminu’s header, straight at Tikendra, and Afriye’s long-range attempt, sailing over the crossbar, added to the frustration.
In the dying moments, Chitwan pressed for a winner, but Agyemang’s goalline clearance in the sixth minute of added time denied Afriye’s shot from a corner.
Dhangadhi have gone atop with the win while Chitwan’s playoff hopes have taken a massive hit. With just two matches remaining, Chitwan sit seventh on five points from six matches. Dhangadhi are at the top of the pile with 11 points from five matches.
Second-placed Lalitpur City FC will take on sixth-placed Jhapa FC in Friday’s only encounter.