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Thrissur edges Malappuram to make the summit clash

Thrissur outmaneuvered host Malappuram with a tactical and flexible gameplan to win 2-1 and enter the final of the 59th Senior State inter-district football championship at the Kottappadi stadium here on Friday.

Malappuram dominated the first half but Thrissur did well to restrict the damage to one goal. Thrissur, after finding the equaliser early in the second half, played possession football and attacked in bursts to unsettle the Malappuram defence.

Thrissur’s highline defence neutralised the early threat from Malappuram and right winger Jishnu Balakrishnan often found himself in an off-side position However, the high-risk defending had its pitfalls as Junain Kadvalath broke the off-side trap to put Malappuram ahead in the 26th minute. 

Salahudheen Adnan sent Junain free with a through ball. The forward showed a clean pair of heels to the Thrissur defenders and had no difficulty in beating goalkeeper K. Abhijith.

The host ended the first half strongly as Jishnu broke away from the right and unleashed a right footer from inside the box. But Abhijith made a reflex save and recovered in time to punch away the rebound for a corner.

However, Malappuram defence caved at the first sign of danger in the second half. Malappuram goalkeeper Mohammed Azhar, who had punched away an effort from Bijesh Balan for a corner, could only watch miserably as an unmarked Edwin nodded in the equaliser from the ensuing corner kick in the 53nd minute.

The goal perked up Malappuram which created a few chances. Abhijith had to come out of his guard to deny Muhammed Nisham in the 62nd minute.

Thrissur slowed down the game and after holding possession began to assert with good linkup play. The Malappuram defence was caught off guard when Santosh peeled away from his marker, entered the box from the right, and shot the winning goal in stoppage time.

The result: Thrissur 2 (Edwin 52, Santosh 90+2) bt Malappuram 1 ( Junain Kadvalath 26).

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