By Harpal Singh Bedi
Riding on Sabitra Bhandar’s brace Sethu FC (Madurai) overcame Manipur Police SC 3-1 to win the Hero Indian Women’s Football League trophy in Ludhiana (Punjab) on Wednesday
Manipur Police led 1-0 at half time, but Sethu staged a come back in the second session pumping three goals to win their first title.
Radharani Devi had put Manipur Police in the lead towards the end of the first half, but an own goal by Umapati Devi put Sethu back in the game, before Nepal international Sabitra Bhandari turned up the heat to score two goals and win it for the Madurai-based side.
Sethu got off with the more chances in the first half, as they kept the Manipur attackers in check and built on their swift counter-attacks to move the ball up the pitch quickly.
Their left winger Sandhiya had the first clear chance a little after 10 minutes when she received the ball just inside the box but she muffed it as she scuffed her instep shot .
The winger had another good chance when she received the ball from a melee inside the Manipur box, but her shot rolled inches wide of the post.
Manipur’s prolific goal scorer Bala Devi was tightly marked, and she often had to drop to the midfield or to the right wing, in order to make some space for herself.
Manipur’s goal came with a little over a minute of regulation time left for the first half, as Radharani leaped above the rest to nod in a corner from the left.
In the second session Sethu started on a attacking note and got the equalizer when Dangmei Grace cut through the right flank and sent in a low cross to captain Indumathi Kathiresan whose powerful drive was deflected by Manipur Police defender Umapati Devi, into her own goal (1-1)
Five minutes later the Madurai side took the lead as their mercurial striker Sabitra Bhandari was set through on goal.She rounded off the keeper, before slotting it into the net from an angle.
Sabitra scored her second goal when Sandhiya broke swiftly down the left and played her in through the channel between the left back and the left centre-back. The Nepal international opened up her right foot and slotted it into the bottom corner to make it 3-1
From then on, it was a matter of seeing out the Manipur attacks and, Sethu defenders Ashalata Devi and Sweety Devi, and midfielders Sumithra, Ratanbala and Indumathi foiled all the attempts.