ATK claimed all 3 points in a thrilling encounter against the Islanders at the Mumbai Football Arena. Goals from Pronay Halder Michael Soosairaj ended the Islanders’ 6-match unbeaten run. The home side put up a strong fighting display but failed to convert their chances on a disappointing night in front of their home fans.
The away side started the game with a couple of long balls from the midfield but it didn’t trouble the Islanders’ defence. The first chance of the game fell to Jayesh Rane who tried to beat Amrinder Singh from distance but his shot lacked the pace and our No.1 made a comfortable save.
At the other end, the Brazilian Diego Carlos was on top of his game once again. First, he went on a dizzy run to bring a foul from ATK Captain, Pritam Kotal. A minute later, Carlos tested Arindam Bhattacharja with a powerful left-footed shot but the goalkeeper tipped the ball over for a corner.
In the 8th minute, MCFC created another half chance through Mohamed Larbi. He played a one-two with Carlos on the left side before firing a shot from distance but it went well wide of the goal. The Islanders started off well in the first 10 minutes but somehow didn’t trouble Arindam enough.
A few minutes later, local boy Raynier Fernandes produced a brilliant piece of trick to get past his marker. He passed the ball to Carlos who then played a through ball to Chermiti in the box. The Tunisian then smartly passed the ball towards Sougou in front of the goal but his effort wasn’t the best and Arindam collected the ball with ease.
ATK came close to opening the scoring through Javi Hernandez. The midfielder struck a good free-kick from distance but Amrinder matched it with an outstanding diving save towards the top corner. In the 22nd minute, the away side built a good chance through Jayesh Rane. He skipped past a couple of challenges before feeding the ball to Roy Krishna, the forward’s first-time effort went wide of the far post.
The next attack produced the first goal of the night. Roy Krishna’s through ball played David Williams behind the defence. Williams did well to hold the ball before finding Pronay Halder’s run in the box, who calmly slotted the ball home. The former Mumbai City FC midfielder picked up a hamstring injury in the process and had to be replaced by Michael Soosairaj in the 34th minute.
Just a minute later, a defensive mix-up between Subhasish Bose and Pratik Chaudhari nearly saw Roy Krishna double the lead but Pratik managed to avert any real danger. The Islanders were under pressure despite starting the game well. In the 36th minute, Amine Chermiti was dubiously booked for diving in the box as he anticipated a foul but went into the referee’s book. Diego Carlos picked up his fourth yellow card a little later and due to his caution, he will be suspended for the next game.
The away side scored their second goal in the 43rd minute to put more pressure on Jorge Costa’s boys. Roy Krishna’s header found Soosairaj down the left wing. The substitute took one touch bring the ball onto his right before curling the ball past Amrinder into the far post. ATK went into the break with a two-goal lead at the Arena.
It was not going to be an easy task in the second half for the Islanders after trailing by two at the restart. The first attack in the second half took a while and came in the 52nd minute through Larbi’s header in the box but it wasn’t on target. Pratik was shown a yellow card for pulling Roy Krishna back in a counter attack in the 54th minute.
Antonio López Habas’ side were staying compact at the back and making it difficult for the Islanders to get past them. Larbi once again tried his effort but this time it was a volley from distance but straight at Arindam only. In the next attack, Carlos found some space and tried his luck with a left-footed effort but it was Arindam who did well to hold onto the ball with Chermiti waiting for any spilled chance.
Jorge Costa made his first change in the 58th minute with Bidyananda Singh replacing Souvik Chakrabarti with Raynier uncharacteristically slotting in on the right side of the defence. The Islanders won a free-kick through Chermiti on the edge of the box. The centre-forward stepped up and managed to get his effort over the wall but Arindam punched the ball away to safety. The away side were forced into a change with Williams going off injured for Jobby Justin at the hour mark.
The away side hit the post through Roy Krishna in the 67th minute after some good work from Soosai to get past his marker in the form of Pratik. In the same attack itself, Prabir Das’ cross found an unmarked Roy Krishna in the box but his effort went wide of the far post. The Islanders thought they had pulled one back in the 68th minute but Modou Sougou was just offside. The pressure was certainly paying off.
In the 72nd minute, Larbi’s through ball found Chermiti in front of the goal from a tight angle. The forward’s deft touch forced a save from Arindam and the rebound fell to Pratik, the defender went for goal but his effort was blocked by the ATK defender. Just a minute later, the home side were denied once again. Larbi rose highest to head towards the goal but his header hit the post and then was cleared off the line. Luck wasn’t going in favour of the Islanders.
Serge Kevyn was brought on for the impressive Mohamed Larbi in the 78th minute. The Islanders had the ball in the back of the net again but it wasn’t given by the referee. The referee, Ajit Kumar Meitei, whistled for a foul with Sougou impeding the ATK keeper but replays later would suggest otherwise.
Kevyn had a big opportunity to score in the 82nd minute. Subhasish Bose’s header across goal found Kevyn free in the box. Kevyn couldn’t keep his header on target from 4 yards out.
In the first minute of six stoppage minutes, Sougou came close to scoring but his looping header flew off the crossbar and that pretty much summed up the game for the Islanders at the Arena.
The night ended on a sour note for the Islanders after Modou Sougou was shown a yellow card for dissent, shortly followed by Jorge Costa who saw yellow too. This was the Boss' second caution of the season which means he will be in the stands in the Islanders' next game in Bhubhaneshwar.
In the end, ATK picked up all the 3 points with Mumbai City FC on 16 points after 11 games into the season. The next task for Jorge Costa is an away trip against Odisha FC at the Kalinga Stadium on 11th January.