Principal Correspondent :
IT SHOULD have been a cracker of a contest given the match being opener of the top most league of the district. But it turned out to be a damp squib. Big Ben Football Club and Nagpur Blues played out a goalless draw to share point in the lung opener of the JSW-NDFA Elite Division League Championship that kicked-off at Bharat Ratna Dr BR Ambedkar Football Stadium in Suyog Nagar on Saturday afternoon. Nagpur Blues, who skipped the relegation final on goal difference last year and Big Ben who survived in the top league defeating Qidwai in the final (relegation), were unimpressive for the 90 minutes of play. Both the teams had fair amount of chances but were found wanting in finishing the moves. The game was played at a considerable pace with both the teams using their flanks to good effect. But the strikers were the ones who messed up most of the chances.
Blues got an early attempt on Big Ben citadel in the second minute but Vikas Meshram’s powerful shot was palmed away by Big Ben goalkeeper Rutik Atkar. Another shot from Santosh Menon missed the post by a whisker. For Big Ben the best opportunity was in the second half when substitute Atharv Chaudhary had only advancing rival goalkeeper to beat but his long lobbed shot went wayward. In the dying minutes Tanmay Khande failed to grab the opportunity for Nagpur Blues. Earlier, a minute silence was paid for late Vice-President Latif Bhai, who passed away recently. NDFA garlanded his portrait before the start of the match. NDFA President Haresh Vora, Secretary Iqbal Kashmiri, Navneet Singh Tuli, Abid Khan, Satyanarayan Jerpot, AB Khan, Atmaram Pande, Kamil Ansari, Mohd Mubin, Khalid Ansari, Adnan Ali, Papan Pramanik, Bernard D’Souza, Stanley Gregory, Ramu Naidu and others were present. On Sunday: SECR HQ vs MOIL XI at 2.30 pm.