Arrows score first win, Chirag Kerala relegated

Chirag United Kerala failed in their bid to avoid relegation by suffering a 0-3 loss against the Pailan Arrows, the first victory for the Arrows in their 24th match this season. The victory takes Pailan Arrows to 13 points while Chirag United Kerala stay on 17 points from 24 matches, seven behind Mumbai FC with to matches to play.

The AIFF's developmental team rode on Team India strikers C.S. Sabeeth's hattrick against his former club. It was a tragedy at Kochi's Nehru Stadium that a Keralite relegated Kerala's lone I-League club. Following HAL's relegation earlier it means there will no club from south India in the I-League next season.

Chances were even for both sides in the early part of the match as rival strikers Vineeth C.K. for Chirag Kerala and George Alwyn for Pailan Arrows came close to putting their respective teams into an early lead. But all had to wait till the 33rd minute for the first goal of the match. Chirag Kerala goalkeeper and captain Sharath K. was to blame for the goal as he fumbled a shot from Malswamfela. The ball fell kindly for Sabeeth who just had to tap it in from close.

Pailan's young guns doubled their lead in injury time of the first session. This time it was from a break initiated by Bikramjit Singh who released Sabeeth ahead of the Chirag Kerala backline. Sabeeth rounded past the on-rushing Sharath and slotted the ball into the open net to conclude the first forty-five minutes.

Changing over, Chirag Kerala coach Biswajit Bhattacharya brought in winger Usman Ashik in place of Suman Dutta. He also rang changes by bringing on Pradeep Mohanraj in the central midfield and pushing Vineeth C.K. to the wings to bring more creativity. But their fortunes did not change and relegation was looming on the horizons. And it could not have gone worse for them as Sherin Sam received marching orders for bringing down George Alwyn in the box and a spot kick was awarded to Arrows. Sabeeth blasted the penalty down the middle of the goal, completing the Indian international's first I-League hattrick.

Pailan Arrows Coach Sujit Chakrabarty sounded pleased after the first win. "This was long due. We have been unlucky not to win quite a few matches against tougher oppositions. It feels nice we came good," Sujit said.

Goalkeeping Coach Tanumoy Basu added, "I have never been in doubt about the quality of our boys. It's true that conversion has cost us dear in the League so far. But today that wasn't the case. It feels nice to win in such a convincing manner."

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