It was a well-contested opening fixture but The Islanders had to face a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Jamshedpur FC in front of a rather lively home crowd at the Mumbai Football Arena. The Islanders left everything on the pitch for this one but it just wasn’t a good day for Jorge Costa and the boys as they were denied by the linesman more than once and were made to rue their missed chances.
A sense of optimism buzzed around the Mumbai Football Arena as the first match of our 2018-19 Hero ISL campaign kicked off. The opening minutes of the first half saw neither of the sides maintain enough possession to cause any real threat on goal. But with the ball at their feet, Jamshedpur looked the more confident side with an attacking ambition to their gameplay.
The Islanders showed glimpses of attacking intent that led to a couple of half chances. An outer foot lob just about found the piercing run of Bipin Singh but it was well defended and Subhasish Roy gathered it with ease. This was followed by a spell of good pressing from The Islanders leading to an easy corner conceded by the visitors. Lucian Goian made the most of the set-piece by leaping over the defender to get a strong head to it only to see the ball rise over the crossbar.
The visitors continued their crossing game and it all seemed to come together in the 28th minute as they got their account up and running. The play was started by Mario Arques and converted by him as well. He overcooked the cross that found Carlos Calvo on the left who put in a dangerous cross into the 6-yard area. The Jamshedpur No.6 perfectly guided the ball into the top corner of the inside side netting leaving Lucian and Amrinder with no chance to clear the ball away.
The opening half saw both the sides with half chances with Jamshedpur FC looking sharper on the break.
Starting the 2nd half trailing behind, The Islanders came onto the pitch with the desire to turn things around. But the visitors started off the second half on the front foot and stuck to their style of play which saw another cross that was headed across goal by Carlos Carvo but Lucian Goian came to the rescue with a vital goal-line clearance to keep Mumbai City FC in the game.
The Islanders then looked more settled going deeper into the second half as they created chances and looked more comfortable with the ball at their feet. A defense-splitting through ball in the 51st minute from Sanju Pradhan put Rafael Bastos one-on-one against Subhasish Roy. Bastos got a weak toe to the ball and Subhasish came out of his line to make a convincing save to deny the equaliser.
The Islanders had a phase of aggressive play. Lucian initiated this attack with a chip into the edge of the box that was flicked by Mohammed Rafique towards the six yard box. Modou Sougou reacted well and got his head onto it but the Jamshedpur custodian was quick to react and parry the ball over the crossbar.
The game got intense with every passing minute. There was a sense of urgency from The Islanders moving forward as the pressure was mounting. A sure-shot equaliser was on the cards for the Islanders as Modou Sougou set up Pranjal Bhumij who side-footed it on target but Tiri made a crucial block.
With just 15 minutes left in the game, Mohammed Rafique found the back of the net but it was ruled out for offside, it was a tight call but surely the right one. The Islanders pushed forward in numbers in search of the crucial equaliser. Modou Sougou seemed to have been pulled down but the penalty appeals were waved away by the referee.
The home fans were left frustrated once again in the 85th minute when Sougou headed the ball into an empty net after Paulo Machado’s freekick was tipped onto the crossbar by Subhasish Roy but the linesman signalled offside, once again the right call. Jamshedpur FC wrapped up the game in the 95th minute as Pablo Morgado sealed the 3 points for the visitors.
A frustrating night for the Islanders but a lot of positives to take note of in the second half. Next up is a trip down south, as Mumbai City FC take on Kerala Blasters FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on 5th October.