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ASC in semifinals

CHENNAI NOV. 23. ASC (Bangalore) rode on K.M. Bopanna's shoulders to score a 4-2 victory over last year's runner-up Christu Raja (Tirunelveli) in the semifinals of the St. Paul's Cup fifth South Zone inter-school hockey tournament at the SDAT-Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium here on Sunday.

In the final on Monday, ASC takes on CSI-St. Paul's (Chennai), which edged out Railway HSS (Palakkad) 1-0. For Paul's, Jayakumar scored the winner off Allen Rajesh's pass.

ASC, a former champion, displayed impressive co-ordination, more so in the second half. Bopanna, speedy and wristy, had a hand in all four goals - first feeding P. Karthikeyan who put the side up in the 23rd minute and later accounting for the remaining three strikes.

But it was the Tirunelveli side, which showed the initiative early on. It earned six penalty corners to ASC's three, and two penalty strokes to boot. But ASC's alert goalkeeper Manivannan successfully foiled the strokes taken by Philip Martin and Anbu Kannan in the 12th and 36th minutes respectively.

Christu Raja's Sathia Jothi and Martin came up with some good moves upfront, but the ASC defence thwarted them with sound tackles.

ASC's Subbiah was an asset on the right. It was his pass that set off Bopanna on a solo in the 33rd minute, which he converted with élan.

Christu Raja levelled through Vinod Rayer and Sathia Jothi in the 37th and 40th minutes, but Bopanna gave the lead two minutes later off a Subbiah pass from the right. He sealed the issue with a penalty corner conversion in the 54th minute.

Other results (league): Railway (Palakkad) 3 (Rajesh Kumar 2, Md. Hakim) bt Shankar (Salem) 0; ASC 5 (C.J. Rajesh 2, M.D. Dhiran, Manikandan, K.M. Bopanna) bt Kumara Raja (Chennai) 0.

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