Stellenbosch FC beat ATK Mohun Bagan 2-0 in their Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup fixture at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP) in Navi Mumbai tonight.

The match commenced competitively as there wasn’t much that could separate the two teams in mance in the first 20 minutes. In fact, the Indian Super League (ISL) outfit were solid at the back and seamless going forward. They were defensively well-organised and hence ensured that they didn’t concede too many goal-scoring opportunities from open play.

They tried building up attack multiple times, particularly from the inner channel on the right flank. The Mariners played out some impressive passing patterns as they broke the Stellenbosch midfield lines quite consistently. However, it appeared at times that they were losing a bit of steam going forward and required more players in the final third to actually put the ball into the back of the net.

Stellenbosch finally sensed an enticing chance through a corner in the 26th minute. Roy-Keane Avontuuk was placed perfectly in the deep end of the box to bring down the kick and hurl a shot straight into target. The ball, however, ended up deflecting but Azola Jakalashe managed to get his foot to tap it in and hand the defending champions a crucial lead nearing the half-time whistle.

Lalrinliana Hnamte began increasing the intensity from the ATK Mohun Bagan midfield in the second-half. He possibly anticipated Stellenbosch’s attempts at pegging the Mariners back and hence played some quick vertical passes to drive his team forward. He distributed the ball to the flanks but also played long balls in order to find some of his forwards in a goal-scoring position inside the box. The midfielder even took some long-range shots but to no avail as they didn’t hit the target.

However, it was a Stellenbosch midfielder who made all the difference eventually. Jaylien Trent came off the bench and settled straightaway into the proceedings. His side won the ball back on the left flank and it was passed on to Trent, who was waiting near the halfway mark. He released a long ball without batting an eye and Avontuuk outran the ATK Mohun Bagan defenders to receive the pass and chip it over Arsh Anner Shaikh’s head to bag his team’s second goal of the night, and seal the South African’s team second win on a trot this season.

Stellenbosch and ATK Mohun Bagan play West Ham United FC and Bengaluru FC respectively in their next game on Tuesday.

Brief Scores

Stellenbosch 2 (Roy-Keane Avontuuk 26’, Roy Keane-Avontuuk 65’) – 0 ATK Mohun Bagan

West Ham too strong for Bengaluru FC

West Ham United defeated Bengaluru FC 4-0 in their Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup fixture at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP) tonight. Bengaluru put forth a formidable challenge in front of West Ham as the Blues were extremely lively in the middle of the park.

The Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) winners demonstrated terrific zeal as they looked to win possession higher up the field and were even successful in doing so on quite a few occasions. However, the transition to attack appeared to be a bit incoherent and that prevented them from producing clear cut goal-scoring opportunities at times.

The Hammers gradually grew into the game after a cautious start. They began taking their risks and a coordinated effort from their frontline helped them score the opener in the 22nd minute. Shighil NS from Bengaluru FC was caught a bit off-guard as the Blues looked to build up an offensive move deep from their end.

Archie Woods immediately pounced upon that chance and recovered the ball back from Shighil. Woods then played a quick pass to West Ham playmaker George Earthy, who squared up a pass for forward Dan Riggie. The striker comfortably slotted the ball into the back of the net as the Lauris Coggin-coached team secured an important lead at a crucial juncture in the first-half.

Bengaluru responded strongly, as their star player Huidrom Thoi Singh seemed to be taking charge of their offensive endeavours. Thoi displayed some impeccable footwork as he took on a couple of defenders and stepped into the box intending to drill the ball into the back of the net. However, Ryan Battrum and Josh Briggs blocked his way and neatly won the ball back from him to keep Bengaluru at bay.

The Hammers began the second-half with equal vigour as they wasted no time and were swift in moving up courtesy some brilliant interlinking between Earthy and Favour Fawunmi.

Fawunmi tested the Bengaluru backline several times initially and he played a quick one-two with Earthy before shooting the ball into the bottom right corner in the 36th minute to get West Ham’s second goal of the game and eventually seal the game in their favour as well. The Hammers only became more threatening going forward as the match progressed. Rigge dropped back to help build up an attacking move and he passed it on to Fawunmi, who was waiting inside the 18-yard box. Fawunmi could not take a solid shot but substitute Blaise Uwandji capitalised on the same get his name on the scoresheet.

Just when it appeared that West Ham were done with their goal-scoring fest, substitute Lewis Orford netted again in the 72nd minute to further his team’s margin of win and cap off a near-perfect performance for the visiting team.

West Ham United and Bengaluru FC will next face Stellenbosch FC and ATK Mohun Bagan FC respectively at RCP on Tuesday.

Brief Scores

West Ham United 4 (Dan Riggie 9’, Favour Fawunmi 36’, Blaise Uwandji 65’, Lewis Orford 74’) – 0 Bengaluru FC