A disappointing night at the Kalinga Stadium for the Islanders as two second half goals from Odisha FC led to our first loss of the campaign on the road.
With the boss Jorge Costa suspended for the night, assistant coach Marco Leite led out a strong lineup bolstered with the return of Sarthak Golui who missed the ATK game due to suspension and Serge Kevyn replacing Diego Carlos.
On a sluggish surface at the Kalinga Stadium, the Islanders were under pressure straight from kick-off as Odisha won a couple of corners. The hosts had a clear plan in place to put in a number of crosses into the box. A chance came our way in the 13th minute of the match after Sougou found himself in space on the right flank and put in a delightful cross only for the ball to fly over a leaping Amine Chermiti.
Odisha FC kept hold of the ball more than the Islanders but with Serge Kevyn and Sougou on the wings, a counter-attack was always a possibility. The hosts did have their moments in the half after Aridane Santana's header went wide off Amrinder's post in the 16th minute. A flurry of crosses were put in the box but some resolute defending from our towering centre backs was required.
With Aridane serving as a target man for the hosts, their top scorer won a number of headers but most of them went wide off Amrinder's goal. The Islanders' number 1 gave a moment of scare after he hurt himself after leaping to collect one of the crosses. The Islanders found it very tough to come to terms with the deteriorating condition of the pitch with Raynier and Rowllin losing out some momentum after falling victim to the surface.
It was a half which did not have too many chances for us but a big chance popped up in the 36th minute after Mohamed Larbi put in a lobbed pass in Raynier's path but he failed to get it under his control. On the other end of the pitch Nandhakumar Sekar had his shot spectacularly saved by Amrinder Singh.
Another big moment followed in the 44th minute after Serge Kevyn's shot was blocked and the ball fell kindly to Modou Sougou who's left footed drive flew past the post - a perfect chance to disrupt the scoreline before the break. As the whistle blew, both sides had their moments but the score stayed level.
The second half on a rather torrid note after Pratik Chaudhari was shown the yellow card for his challenge from behind on Aridane Santana. It got worse in the 48th minute after Xisco Hernandez took the ball from the right wing into the box by beating Mato Grgic and put in a pass for the charging Aridane Santana. The towering Odisha FC striker scored from close range to give the hosts the lead after it took a slight deflection off Sarthak Golui.
On the 53rd minute of the game, Serge Kevyn had the ball in his feet on the left wing, with little support our No. 7 took a curling shot but the ball fell easily for Dorronsoro. A defining moment of the second half came when Subhasish Bose collided with Shubham Sarangi after both went for a 50-50 ball. The play was halted for a while as Subhasish had to leave the field to get some treatment.
Amrinder Singh produced a mindblowing save on the 56th minute after Aridane put in a through ball for Jerry who hits to our stopper's right side but Amrinder sticked out his strong right hand to save a one-on-one finish for the Odisha FC winger. Subhasish did come on the pitch for a few more minutes but his struggle was evident after that collision and he was replaced by Valpuia for our first change of the night.
Serge Kevyn got himself into the book after a rash challenge on Xisco Hernandez from behind took out the Odisha FC midfielder. The referee was quick to flash out a card. Our second change of the night came in the 72nd minute after Raynier Fernandes was replaced by Bidyananda Singh who had put in a perfect assist for Sougou against Hyderabad FC a couple of games back which now seemed like a long time ago.
Things went from bad to worse for the Islanders after the hosts scored again in the 74th minute with Xisco Hernandez scoring after Shubham Sarangi's long throw was met by Aridane who set it up for the midfielder to volley home and double the advantage. Resigned to the stands, Jorge Costa painted a picture of dismay seeing the visitors concede for the second time on the night.
Chasing a two-goal deficit in the final 10 minutes, we made our third change with Serge Kevyn being replaced by Bipin Singh. There weren't many chances from either end as the game reached its climax. The result meant that the Islanders lose away from home for the first time this season. We head back home to the Mumbai Football Arena to face Bengaluru FC on January 17, 2019.