Ambernath United Atlanta FC faced a heartbreaking 4-3 loss against United SC at the Kalyani Sports Complex, marking their first defeat in the Hero I-League 2 final round. This unexpected outcome had significant implications as it resulted in Steven Dias’ side slipping to second place in the table, putting their promotion to the Hero I-League at stake on the final match day.
Heading into the game, United SC had suffered defeats in both of their previous matches, while Ambernath United Atlanta FC had enjoyed a perfect record with two wins. The clash promised an intriguing battle between the bottom-placed and top-placed teams. United SC had narrowly lost to both Shillong Lajong and Delhi FC, while Ambernath had displayed impressive form, securing victories with scores of 1-0 and 5-1 in their two final-round matches.
The match started with United SC taking the lead in the 38th-minute courtesy of a goal by Tarak Hembram. Their advantage was further extended in the 56th minute when Rahul found the back of the net, putting Ambernath in a difficult position. However, just when it seemed like the game was slipping away from them, Ambernath’s Ashley Koli stepped up and scored a magnificent goal from a cross, halving the deficit in the very next minute. The final 30 minutes of the match turned into a thrilling roller coaster ride when Tejas Raut’s own goal handed United SC a 3-1 lead.
The most nail-biting moments came in the stoppage time. Mandeep Singh Multani managed to reduce the deficit to one goal for Ambernath, scoring in the second minute of added time. At 3-2, United SC looked vulnerable. Still, Ambernath United Atlanta FC failed to capitalize on their chances, with a scramble in the box and a cleared ball off the line denying them the equalizer. Although the scoreline could have been 3-3, it was United SC who launched a counterattack and scored a brilliant goal from outside the box. Subrata Murmu found the back of the net in the fourth minute of added time, extending their lead to 4-2. With only three minutes remaining in added time, Ambernath United Atlanta FC faced an uphill battle. However, their captain Himanshu Patil managed to salvage some hope by heading home their third goal in the seventh minute. Unfortunately, time ran out, and United SC emerged victorious with a final score of 4-3.
Ambernath United Atlanta FC would undoubtedly feel that they missed an opportunity to secure promotion, especially considering they were trailing 3-1 at one point. A draw would have been sufficient, but United SC did just enough to secure all three points and climb up the table. This win, combined with FC Bengaluru FC’s 2-1 loss, propelled United SC to the fourth position with three points.
As a result, all eyes turned to the upcoming final match day on May 26, 2023, which would conclude the entire Hero I-League season 2022-23. Shillong Lajong’s 2-1 victory propelled them to the top of the table with seven points from their four matches, securing their promotion to the Hero I-League for the 2023-24 season. Ambernath United Atlanta FC faced a crucial away match against Delhi FC, which would ultimately determine the team finishing in second place. Currently, Ambernath held the second spot with six points, while Delhi FC trailed closely behind in third place with four points. The winner of this match would earn a promotion to the Hero I-League next season, however, a draw would favor Ambernath United Atlanta FC.