The Islanders emerged victorious against the Marina Machans in a well-deserved 1-0 win on Sunday, at the Fatorda. The win ends a 7 game winless run, and also saw Lallianzuala Chhangte pick up the Hero of the Match award in his first start for the club.
Aside from Chhangte, Angulo also made it to the starting line-up. Meanwhile, Chennaiyin FC started Lukasz Gikiewics, and Germanpreet Singh in place of Mohammad Dhot and Vladimir Koman.
We started the game in a well-controlled and progressive fashion. The first chance of the game in the 8th minute, when Bipin and Cassio combined on the left. Bipin’s low cross was cleared poorly and Chhangte latched on to it outside the box. He played it straight to Angulo, and the Spaniard went for goal. Unfortunately, his shot wasn’t strong or troublesome for the ‘keeper.
Angulo tried yet again in a couple minutes, this time trying to flick one in with the back of his head. It was once again Cassio and Bipin linking up along with Mandar down the left.
Cassio was in a fine mood to provide tonight, as he very nearly set up a goal for El Matador. It was Chhangte’s perceptiveness that set off Cassio down the right through a quick free-kick. The Brazilian looked up and squared it for Angulo, but once again his effort was too close to Debjit.
On the other hand, it took a little bit more than half an hour for Chennaiyin to get their first shot off. It was Ariel Borysiuk who had the pleasure, with an ambitious effort from distance which sailed well over the goal-frame.
The rise in intensity which had built itself up in the first half-hour eventually fizzled out towards half-time. The space in midfield started to wane, and both sides were deadlocked at 0-0 as they headed into the tunnel.
The second half began in a similar lulled fashion, as the first notable event was a booking. Our new signing Chhangte went into the book for bringing down Anirudh Thapa during a counter.
It took the boys in blue some time to find their groove, but it came eventually. At the hour mark, Chhangte was set off on his bike by Angulo who had dropped deep. The youngster showed great strength and pace to beat his man, and made a great run into the box. He tried to return the favor to Angulo, but somehow our #17 failed to hit the net again.
In the next two minutes, Angulo turned creator, this time picking our other winger out , Bipin Singh. It was a lovely cushioned ball which saw Bipin one on one with the ‘keeper. Somehow, lightning struck twice and the ball once again skid clear of the goal.
The end of the play saw Cassio and Bipin being subbed off for Diego Mauricio and Vikram Partap – our first change of the night.
The boys continued to show their enthusiasm, and this time it was Mandar Rao Dessai who came close. Some good progressive play on the left saw him in some space on the wing. He took his chance and looped in a ball, which went over the goalie and bounced off the crossbar.
In the 71st minute, the opposition found some respite from defending. Anirudh Thapa won the ball in midfield and played it to Valskis. The Lithuanian went for goal but this too, didn’t trouble Mohammad Nawaz.
Nawaz was our second and final player of the night to get a yellow. It was a poor header back from Fall which forced Nawaz to rush and collect it. Collect it, he did, but in his stride he ended up sliding outside the box and inevitably handling it outside the area. For this, he was booked and Chennai received a free-kick which was defended well.
In the 82nd minute, we made our second change – Bradden Inman came in for Igor Angulo
The change proved to be instrumental in our victory, as it was the Aussie who manufactured our goal. He was found in space by Chhangte, and his initial shot was blocked by Damjanovic. He got on to the loose ball, and put in an inch-perfect cross into the box. Vikram Partap was lurking, and made the most of this opportunity. A calm two-touch finish saw the 20-year old get his third goal of the season.
Soon after this Vinit Rai came on for Chhangte, who had earned himself some well-deserved rest.
The game went down to the wire, as Chennai gave one final push deep into stoppage time. In the 93rd minute, they won a free-kick. Jerry crossed the ball in and Borysiuk flicked into the 6 yard area. Chaos ensued, and a deflection saw the ball fly towards goal. Nawaz’s acute instincts prompted him to push it away but the danger hadn’t been averted. The ball eventually fell to Gikiewicz in front of goal, which he skied over the bar.
Eventually, time ran out and the Islanders finally got the much-awaited three points. Des Buckingham will look to build on this on the 13th of February, when the team faces off against Odisha FC at the Fatorda.