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PSB to clash with BSF for title

Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: Punjab & Sind Bank (PSB) will seek to avenge the quarterfinal group league defeat to Border Security Force (Jalandhar) when the two meet in the final of the Indian Oil 111th all-India Beighton Cup at the Mohun Bagan ground here on Monday. PSB had lost the quarterfinal encounter 4-1.

The Bankmen, showing cohesion and strike power, downed Army XI by the odd goal in three in the first semifinal, while BSF took the tie-breaker route to eliminate Indian Airlines 7-6 in the second semifinal after the regulation time ended 1-1.

Forced to go on the defensive for the entire first half against the Armymen, PSB displayed remarkable fighting spirit in the second. It not only neutralised Ellyasar Lakra's 28th minute strike through Mandeep Singh's penalty corner goal in the 47th minute, but also scored the match-winner three minutes later with an opportunistic effort by Gurvinder Chandi.

The Bankmen, not used to playing on natural grass, struggled initially but settled down to take charge. They mounted relentless attacks to emerge a deserving winner, making it to the final after a gap of one year.

Team effort

BSF's strength was its team work and stamina. Lacking any star of the stature of Sameer Dad or Dhanraj Pillay, BSF attacked with verve and defended with discipline. Naturally, it went ahead in the 24th minute through a Raj Singh strike off a penalty corner.

As the game looked like ending with a 1-0 scoreline, Airlines mounted a series of attacks. Prompted by Pillay in the frontline, the Airlines players found their rhythm as the game progressed. A sense of complacency also took over BSF and in the 64th minute, Bimal Lakra's goal was a testimony to the Airmen's determination to stay in the hunt.

In the tie-breaker, Devender Kumar (2), Harbhajan Singh (2), Mandeep Singh and Marianus Lakra were successful for BSF, while Raj Singh's push was blocked by Airlines custodian Sirjesh.

Airlines profited through Birendra Lakra (2), Sanjeev Kumar, Swaranjit Singh and Sameer Dad, while Sandeep Michael and Sanjeev Kumar's efforts were blocked by BSF goalkeeper M.K. Pomaiah.

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