In the first of the Islanders’ three 'finals', Jorge Costa and his boys snatched 3 very late points courtesy a 91st-minute winner from Bidyananda Singh. Earlier, Amine Chermiti’s thumping header got the Islanders a deserved equaliser after Noe Costa’s 7th-minute penalty put Jamshedpur FC in front.
The game got off to a very lively start with Chermiti testing Subrata Pal as early as the 4th minute with a near-post header that forced a save and corner as well. In the resulting corner, the Islanders managed to get the ball in the back of the net through Chermiti but it was canceled by the linesman’s flag. The ball had crossed the outside line before curling inside the box.
A couple of minutes later, Sourav Das’ clumsy tackle on Farukh Choudhary didn’t give the referee any second thoughts in awarding a penalty. Noe Acosta calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner with Amrinder going the other way. It wasn’t the start the home side would have been hoping for. In the 9th minute, Mohammed Rafique was shown a yellow card for a foul on Farukh.
With JFC sitting deep, the Islanders were keeping more of the ball and looking to create a solid opening. First, Diego Carlos had a chance but his effort was way off target and then Raynier Fernandes was denied after Subrata’s low diving save in the 17th minute. In the next chance for the Islanders, local boy Raynier created a chance for Mohamed Larbi in the box but the Tunisian’s effort went over the goal.
Just before the hour mark, Diego Carlos played some football to create a chance for himself. He received the ball from Rafique’s throw-in before holding the ball, twisting and turning and shooting with his left foot but Subrata did well to hold onto the shot. The away side were coming up with tactical fouls to stop possible MCFC attacks and the referee didn’t hesitate in showing Memo a yellow card for a foul on Diego Carlos.
The next player to be booked was Sourav Das as he fouled Aitor Monroy in the 42nd minute. The first half was pretty tight with neither side able to create much as JFC went with a slender one-goal lead at the break.
In a bid to turn things around, Jorge Costa made a double change by bringing Bidyananda Singh and Serge Kevyn for Sourav Das and Raynier Fernandes. The second half started like how the first-half ended, pretty tight with chances not coming easy for both sides. In the 55th minute, Subhasish Bose blasted a left-footed shot but it was straight into the hands of Subrata. The game suddenly came to life one again with the Islanders looking likely to score the next goal.
Serge Kevyn had a good chance to equalise in the 58th minute. Larbi’s cross from the left found Kevyn in the middle but his header didn’t trouble the JFC defence as the danger was cleared away comfortably. At the hour mark, Diego Carlos’ inswinging corner from the right found an unmarked Chermiti in a crowded box, the Tunisian made no mistake with a thumping header that ricocheted off the bar and then off Subrata into the goal. The game was levelled up with 30 mins of action left.
The away side got Jairu on for Aniket in the 63rd minute to keep things under control. With the game heating up, Narender Gahlot was booked after he brought Diego Carlos down from behind in the 67th minute. JFC slowly were finding their rhythm back into the game and it seemed like a long frustrating period for the Islanders in front of their home crowd.
The Islanders were passing the ball around but some resolute defending from JFC kept them at bay. A second JFC substitution saw Amarjit Singh take Farukh’s place with a little over 10 minutes left in the encounter.
The away side nearly took the lead against the run of play in the 84th minute. Noe Acosta’s cross from the left found Sergio Castel’s run in the box, he managed to keep his header on target but our no.1 Amrinder Singh made himself big to make a huge save. The loose ball fell to Amarjit, who tried to slot it home but was brilliantly blocked by Mato Grgic. In the next minute, Chermiti was booked for a late challenge.
As the game entered its climax, Serge Kevyn pulled up with a hamstring injury in the 88th minute and was replaced by Bipin Singh. The game moved into 4 stoppage minutes with both sides with a chance to claim 3 points. But, substitute Bidyananda Singh had other ideas. In the 91st minute, Bidyananda was the first to react to a half-clearance. His first-time low shot beat a diving Subrata Pal and into the goal.
It was Bidyananda’s first-ever Hero ISL goal and it sent the crowd into a party mode. The goal sealed the 3 points for the Islanders and the battle to get into the top 4 continues as Jorge Costa and his boys move onto the 26 points from 16 matches. Up next is an away game against the already qualified FC Goa on 12th February at the Fatorda stadium.