Goals from local lad Raynier Fernandes and Modou Sougou saw the Islanders complete a double over the defending champions Chennaiyin FC. It was a complete performance from Jorge Costa’s team in what was their sixth win of the season and the unbeaten run extending to six matches, setting a new club record in the process.
The first ten minutes of the game saw both the sides vying hard for possession and take control early in the game. The first half chance of the game fell to Lucian Goian who tried an acrobatic effort from the edge of the box, but his effort went over the goal though.
Raynier Fernandes was named in the starting 11 following his impressive performance against Delhi Dynamos FC. He was the key man in midfield, taking charge of the midfield with his swift moves and skills.
In the 16th minute, Arnold Issoko ran at the heart of Chennaiyin FC defence before unleashing a shot from distance but that went some distance from target and into the stands.
The Islanders were settling in well and took advantage of that. Rafael Bastos found space down the left flank and passed the ball to Raynier who had plenty of time at his disposal. He let loose a low shot that beat the diving effort of Sanjiban Ghosh in goal. It was a second goal in as many matches for the local boy and a deserved lead for the Islanders.
Amrinder Singh made a fantastic save to deny Carlos Salom from close range after the striker found himself free in the box from a Raphael Augusto pass. Although he didn’t get get enough power on it, our No.1 did well to keep the lead intact.
At the stroke of half-time, Modou Sougou had a glorious opportunity to end his goal drought. He received a pass from a Mailson Alves’ tackle and was through on goal with just the goalkeeper to beat, he took a shot that beat Ghosh but unfortunately the ball hit the crossbar and went out for a goal-kick. Overall, it was a good first-half performance for the Islanders and a one goal lead as well.
No time was wasted by the Islanders in starting the second half on a positive note. Arnold Issoko fed a lovely chipped pass to Paulo Machado in the box but the midfielder failed to keep his volley on target despite being under little pressure.
The pressure was on the away side to breach the Islanders’ defence but they were not able to grab their opportunities. At the other end, the story was way different. The impressive Rafael Bastos took on the Chennaiyin defence with a brilliant run from the halfway line before shooting from the edge of the box but his effort was blocked. Fortunately for the Islanders, the deflection fell to Modou Sougou who headed the ball into an empty net to finally end his goal drought and bag his second goal against the defending champions.
While Chennaiyin pushed in numbers, the Islanders’ defence made crucial blocks and interceptions to keep them frustrated on the night. Both coaches made changes with a little over 20 minutes to go as goalscorer Raynier and Bastos were replaced by Sanju Pradhan and Matias Mirabaje.
Our no.1 Amrinder Singh once again made a fine save to deny substitute Andrea Orlandi who thought he had found the top corner but only to see his effort stopped by the fingertips of the goalkeeper. The defence was stern on keeping a clean sheet and that showed when Joyner Lourenco made an important block to keep Orlandi’s effort away from goal.
It was another special night at the Arena with the Islanders doing the double over Chennaiyin FC. 20 points after 10 matches, 6 match unbeaten run along with 6 clean sheets has seen the Islanders move to the second spot at the moment. Up next is a tricky away fixture against the unbeaten Bengaluru FC on December 9. It will be the penultimate game of 2018 for the Islanders and the boys will be keen to end it on a high.