Harmanpreet, Vinith And Satendra On Target As Blues Begin Title Defence On A Winning Note
Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC made a triumphant start to their Reliance Foundation Development League campaign with a 3-1 win against Kickstart FC, at the Bangalore Football Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Tuesday. Goals from Harmanpreet Singh, Vinith Venkatesh and Satendra Singh helped the Blues on their way to three points in what was a competitive, end-to-end encounter.
Blues’ Head Coach Jan Van Loon named a starting lineup featuring Dipesh Chauhan in goal, Ashik Adhikari, Felixson Fernandes, Clarence Fernandes and Rajanbir Singh manning a back four and Harmanpreet leading the line and the side.
Kickstart FC saw more of the ball in the opening exchanges, but it was Bengaluru who crafted the first chance of the game, in the 5th minute. Thoi Singh found Harmanpreet’s run and set the latter on his way on goal, but the forward chose power over precision and flashed his shot wide off target.
Harmanpreet had plenty of chances early on which were missed, but eventually made amends for his misses by putting the Blues in the lead in the 22nd minute. Taking the ball on the right after being put through by Satendra Singh, the forward beat his marker for pace and buried his shot in the near post, past Kickstart goalkeeper Deepak.
Having gone behind, Kickstart pressed on in their quest to get the equalizer and eventually restored parity in the 35th minute. Abhishek Powar who found space on the left wing, cut in and unleashed a shot which burst through Dipesh’s gloves and into the back of the net. It wouldn’t stay the same for long though, as Bengaluru FC won a penalty in the 35th minute, with defender Akshay S handling the ball in the box, leading the referee to point to the spot. Midfielder Vinith Venkatesh stepped up and nestled his shot in the bottom left corner, sending the ’keeper the wrong way in the process, to restore the Blues’ lead.
Just before the break, Harmanpreet had a great chance to further the Blues’ lead when he found himself at the end of a corner, but the forward placed his header narrowly wide off the upright. The first period which saw a sedate start from both sides, came to life with the three goals and set the tone for what promised to be an exciting encounter as the two teams went in at half-tme.
Ahead of the restart, Kickstart made the first change of the game with midfielder R Rahul being brought on to replace Udit. The substitute nearly brought Kickstart back on level terms in the 53rd minute. Coming in from the left, Rahul cut back into the box and curled in a shot which ricocheted off the crossbar before the rebound was eventually cleared away by the Bengaluru defence.
In the 63rd minute, Van Loon’s side added to their lead when Shreyas Ketkar found himself one-on-one with the keeper after sneaking in behind the Kickstart defence. The midfielder’s shot was saved by Kickstart ’keeper Deepak before Satendra Singh was alert to the opportunity and calmly slotted home from just outside the box.
Into the final 10 minutes, Van Loon brought on Harpreet Singh, Harsh Patre and Lalhmingchhuanga to replace Rajanbir, Damaitphang Lyngdoh and Satendra Singh to see out the final phase of the game. Just before the full-time whistle, Kickstart went down to 10 men as R Karthikeyan was sent off for a second booking, after a rash challenge by the midfielder on Harsh Patre.
Having started their campaign with a victory, Van Loon’s side will take on FC Mangalore in their next game on Saturday, 11 March 2023, at the Bangalore Football Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 10 AM.