IWL 2023-24: Manisha Naik's last-minute header helps Sports Odisha earn their first point

Manisha Naik's last-minute header rescues the draw for Sports Odisha against HOPS FC in IWL 2023-24. Sports Odisha earned their first point with this draw.

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IWL 2023-24: Manisha Naik's last-minute header helps Sports Odisha earn their first point

Sports Odisha managed to earn their first point of IWL 2023-24 after managing a draw against HOPS FC Image | AIFF

Manisha Naik secured a crucial goal in the 85th minute, rescuing a draw for Sports Odisha against HOPS FC and securing their first point of the IWL season at the Capital Football Arena on Tuesday, January 16, 2024. HOPS FC moved up to fifth place in the points table, while Sports Odisha finally marked their presence on the scoreboard.

HOPS FC initiated the game strongly, consistently pressuring the Odisha defensive line from the outset. Their strategic use of long balls from the back was evident, aiming to release Fredrica Torkudzor and Neha on the right and left flanks, respectively, behind the Odisha defensive line. The early stages saw both teams struggling to gain control, resulting in an open and competitive game.

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The first significant opportunity arose for Neha in the 25th minute, but her shot hit the side netting from close range. On the opposing end, Deepa Nayak came close to giving Odisha the lead with a well-executed long shot that was adeptly gathered by the goalkeeper.

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Towards the end of the first half, HOPS FC began to assert control over possession in the midfield. Despite this, Sports Odisha's counterattacks posed a threat to the HOPS defense, resulting in a couple of missed half-chances by Rashmi.

HOPS FC's Gladys Amfobe in action against Sports Odisha in IWL 2023-24  Image | AIFF
HOPS FC's Gladys Amfobe in action against Sports Odisha in IWL 2023-24 Image | AIFF

Odisha continued their offensive efforts, with Rashmi squandering a prime opportunity by putting her shot over the bar in the 51st minute. Against the run of play, Federicka scored for HOPS FC in the 68th minute from a brilliant cross by Neha, taking the lead.

Determined to equalize, Odisha intensified their attacks, leaving their defensive line vulnerable to Neha and Fredrica's exploits. The persistent pressure from Sports Odisha paid off when Subhadra's long-range shot struck the crossbar and fell perfectly for Manisha Naik to score with a simple header in the 81st minute, securing the first point for her team.

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