The Islanders went down fighting against Odisha FC, 2-4, at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Monday. Goals from Ahmed Jahouh and Igor Angulo were cancelled out by Jerry M, Jonathas and Aridai Cabrera.

Mourtada Fall served his suspension and started alongside Rahul Bheke, replacing Mehtab Singh. Meanwhile Raynier Fernandes made his way in for Ygor Catatau, and Vignesh D made his first start after injury, in place of Mandar Rao Dessai.

The opposition made changes - Victor Mongil for Gaurav Bora, Hendry Antonay for Sailung, Jerry for Liridon Krasniqi and Aridai for Jonathas

The Juggernauts were the first ones to score, with their first of the night coming in early at the 3rd minute. A misplaced pass in defense gave the ball on a platter to Javi Hernandez. He played it out wide to Ariday, who twisted and turned and eventually got a shot off. Nawaz got a palm to it, but the ball ended up creeping into the far corner.

Our fighting spirit started to shine through, as we unleashed wave after wave of potent attacks. We restored parity in the 10th minute, owing to a crisp curler from Jahouh. A high press from Apuia laid the ball right into Cassio’s dexterous feet. Some fancy footwork ensued, and the ball was squared to Jahouh who wrapped his foot around it from distance. Had this swerving strike come a week earlier, our number 10 would have had a solid contender in the 2021 Goal Cup.

The positive momentum continued, with the Islanders excelling on the wings primarily through Bipin and Vignesh.

The same intent played a huge role in our second goal as well. Cassio was brought down cheaply by Thoiba on the left wing, and a free-kick was given. The Moroccan Wizard stood over it, and delivered an inviting ball into the box. Igor Angulo, in all his expertise, ran onto the ball and glanced it past the ‘keeper into the far corner.

The rest of the half also saw us get a couple of good shots off, and we went into the break with a deserved lead.

The second half started with Jahouh entering the book. He clipped Aridai just outside the box, which earned him his 3rd yellow card of the season.

Odisha were quick to change their system, opting to bring in Liridon Krasniqi and Paul for Aridai and Isaac Vanmalsawma in the 53rd minute.

Our first substitution came just after the hour mark – Ygor Catatau replaced the goalscorer Angulo, and Mandar Rao Dessai came on for Vignesh. Odisha made a double switch yet again, with Jonathas and Ruatthara coming in for Victor Mongil and Thoiba.

The game burst into life after the substitutions, and it was Odisha who got the first opportunity. A ferocious free-kick whipped in by Javi Hernandez fell to Sahil panwar’s head, but the shot went wide.

Our chance came in the 68th minute, wherein Ygor Catatau found the net yet again from a Jahouh delivery, but was deemed offside.

Odisha followed in similar suit, by sending the ball in with a header. Unfortunately, this goal stood and the score was level. The assist was provided by Nandha who found Jerry at the far post. His diving header got the better of Mandar and Nawaz.

Only 7 minutes later, Jerry got his second of the night. Nandha broke free on the wing thanks to a counter, and found Paul who was waiting in the middle. Paul played it into Jonathas, who teed up an unmarked Jerry. It was a postage stamp finish from the winger, spurring Odisha into the lead.

Bradden Inman and Gurkirat Singh featured soon after, coming on for Cassio and Raynier.

The following minutes were frenetic, and Odisha were able to make the most of it. Their final goal came late, in the 88th minute. The ball bobbled uncertainly in our third, and Jerry picked it up on the right wing. He wriggled past the defense and crossed it in for Jonathas. The Brazilian tapped it in, extending Odisha’s lead to 4-2.

The game wasn’t over for Mumbai yet, as we pushed on till the very last minute. Deep into stoppage time, Catatau almost scored a header but Kamaljit Singh and the upright denied the boys any consolation.

Despite the result, the Islanders are still at the summit of the table with a 1 point lead. Our next game is against 11th placed SC East Bengal on the 7th of January, Friday, at the Tilak Maidan Stadium.