One day after Mahindra & Mahindra picked up majority stake in a Bangalore-based electric car company, Mahindra United, which this corporate group funded, wound up. Fans turned up in large numbers at the Cooperage ground to make the farewell memorable.
Mahindra United, known as Mahindra & Mahindra till 2001, didn’t disappoint, walking into the sunset with a 2-1 win against JCT to end their I League 3 campaign. “It was a good last game. We received good support from our fans,” manager Henry Menezes said.
Once within touching distance of the crown that went to Dempo, Mahindra United finished with 41 points. JCT, also a team backed by a corporate, ended on 32. Every move Mahindra United made was met with cheer and drumbeats. Be it midfielders Steven Dias, Sukhwinder Singh, Prasad Bola and Paresh Shivalkar combining or forwards Mohammed Rafi and Surojit Bose moving up. Or when the backline, comprising international and Man of the Match N.P. Pradeep, D Ravanan, Laukir Jadhav and Colin Abranches, thwarted JCT.
Second-choice goalkeeper Subhodeep Mukherjee too drew applause for his efforts, the loudest in the 53rd minute when he charged out and dived to make a collection.
Sukhwinder finished a fine combined move, which involved Shivalkar and Rafi, to put the hosts ahead. Mahindra United survived a close shave when JCT’s Nigerian striker N. Henry ballooned over and doubled the lead through a lucky strike from Shivalkar. The wide midfielder’s flick off Rafi’s low cross looped over goalkeeper Karanjit Singh. His goal will go down as the last. Three minutes into the second half, JCT pulled one back when Henry firmly headed home Jaswinder Singh flag-kick from the right.
East Bengal held
Kolkata: East Bengal and Viva Kerala played out a 1-1 draw. Viva went ahead through Sabeeth C.S. in the 10th minute. East Bengal equalised seven minutes later when Budhiram Tudu struck off a melee. East Bengal ended with 31 points and Viva Keral with 30.
Dempo, Pune FC split points
Panaji: Dempo SC and Pune FC played out 1-1 draw in their final round match. Champions Dempo finished with 54 points and Pune FC with 42. Results: Mahindra United 2 (Sukhwinder 33; Shivalkar 44) JCT 1 (Henry 49); Viva Kerala 1 (Sabeeth C.S., 10) East Bengal 1 (Tudu, 17); Dempo 1 (Miranda 6) Pune FC (Arata 19).