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 February 25, 2002 | 1915 IST

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Mahindra snatch draw
with late goal

Durand Cup champions Mahindra United scored late in the match to earn a 1-1 draw with JCT Mills in the Tata National Football League at the Cooperage, in Mumbai, on Monday.

There were many red faces as JCT, who were beaten by Mahindra 1-2 in ther first leg, threw all the pre-match notions into the dustbin by scoring in the 27th minute. And taking lead was not enough as the three Hardeeps -- Gill, Sangha and Saini -- tormented the home favourites to no end in the first half.

It was Jeevan Moras, whose miskick gave Sangha the opportunity to breach the defence and lift the ball for Surjit to head home.

The Mahindra equaliser came in the 87th minute after Anthony Pereira had effected a goalline save off a Gill header. Austin Okolo stole a ball and floated it to Abhishek Yadav, whose header beat goalkeeper Arvind Kumar.

JCT, following directions from India coach Sukhwinder Singh perfectly, made a series of assaults, with Hardeep Gill being the outstanding man up front. He kept threading through the Mahindra defence but just could not score.

Mahindras were able to gather their wits only in the second half and an all-ten man attack improved things. Pereira first essayed a shot that gave Bala Usman a chance for a grounder at the goal, which Kumar saved in the 59th minute, and then, immediately, Khalid Siddique passed to Usman, whose powerful kick was parried by Kumar. Two minutes later, off a scrimmage, Usman was unfortunate to see the crossbar come in the way of his shot.

But the counter raids by Gill continued and Mahindra keeper Virender Singh was forced to stretch to bring off two saves off the forward in the 62nd and 63rd minutes.

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