An early strike from Arnold Issoko sealed a crucial win for the Islanders at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. The goal came as early in the 4th minute which was followed by brilliant defending from the Islanders throughout the game to seal a hat-trick of wins as well as a third clean sheet on the trot.
The Islanders won a corner in the 4th minute. Paulo Machado’s delivery was met by Subhasish Bose, whose header found Arnold Issoko but his shot was blocked and it fell to once again to Paulo Machado. The Portuguese’s shot cum pass found Arnold Issoko at the far post and his first touch rolled over the line despite a last ditch dive from Pawan Kumar. The referee discussed with the linesman before signalling a goal for the Islanders.
The hosts were on the charge after conceding the goal but were halted by brilliant work by the defence throughout the game. Lucian Goian and Sehnaj Singh were shown yellow cards in the first 15 minutes of the game. Bartholomew Ogbeche had a good opportunity to equalise for NEUFC after losing his market in the box but his header went past off the goal.
Mumbai City FC’s attackers Arnold Issoko and Modou Sougou joined in the defensive duties as they were constantly helping the defenders during the set-pieces. NEUFC were awarded a free-kick in a very dangerous position in the 17th minute but Juan Mascia failed to make the most of it.
With 5 minutes to go in the first half, the Islanders nearly doubled the lead through a training ground set-piece routine. A free-kick from Paulo Machado found Rafael Bastos’ run from the edge of the box but the Brazilian’s effort was wide off the goal. A couple of minutes later, Federico Gallego’s free-kick swirled and hit the crossbar but Amrinder had it covered and looked comfortable as well. The first half came to an end with the Islanders ahead courtesy of Arnold Issoko’s goal.
The second half started on a bright note for the Islanders. First, Modou Sougou saw his chipped effort go over the goal after being through on goal. This was followed by two clearances by the NEUFC defence which could have easily gone into their own net but they survived the scare.
At the hour mark, Paulo Machado made a brilliant interception and took a shot from distance but his effort lacked power to trouble Pawan Kumar in goal. 3 minutes later, the Islanders had another chance to put the game to bed, Arnold Issoko’s through ball put Sougou away from the defence but he blazed his shot well over the goal. The chances were coming but were not being finished with composure.
Ogbeche continued to be a threat for the home side. He found space in the box, controlled the ball and shot with his left foot but it was straight into the hands of Amrinder Singh. Midfielder Rafael Bastos was stretchered off due to an injury and that saw Matias Mirabaje come on for the last 15 minutes or so.
Amrinder Singh once again came to the rescue after Ogbeche won the ball from a mistimed Lucian Goian header, he took the ball down on his chest and tried a first time effort from a tight angle but it was well saved by our custodian. The follow up shot by Rowllin Borges went off target with the goal gasping. NEUFC pushed forward in numbers in the final few minutes but it didn’t pay any dividends.
The Islanders sealed a hard fought win away from home before going into the international break on a high. A fourth win, thirteen points and a third spot in the packed ISL table is what the Islanders have achieved under Jorge Costa after seven matches. Up next is a home game against ATK at the Arena on November 24.