Shane McFaul salvaged a point for his team…
DSK Shivajians collected a valuable away point at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Chennai on Sunday night as they scored a last-gasp equalizer to shatter Chennai City’s hopes of returning to winning ways.
Chennai’s marquee player Haroon Fakhruddin Amiri scored the opener via a superb header, but they could not withstand pressure from the Shivajians in the final few minutes as Shane Charles Alan McFaul capitalised on Chennai’s exhaustion to volley home the equaliser from long range.
In light of two back-to-back away defeats, Chennai manager Soundararajan elected to make changes to the line-up and system as he ditched his preferred 4-4-1-1 formation to espouse a more traditional 4-4-2 setup that former manager Robin Charles Raja had always favoured. Joseph Clement, Nandhakumar and Marcos Vinicus returned to the starting line-up in the places of Denson Devadas, Abhishek Das and injured Edwin Sydney Vanspaul.
Despite sides enjoying plenty of possession in the midfield throughout the first half, neither side capitalised on the creativity of Haroon Fakhruddin Amiri and Juan Quero Barraso as they struggled in their respective attacking thirds.
Shivajians’ Lallianzuala Chhangte had the game’s first clear-cut chance on 14 minutes when he inadvertently chested the ball towards Karanjit Singh’s goal following a Ricky Lallawmawma cross. Chennai eked out a chances of their own three minutes later as Dhanpal Ganesh and Charles de Souza tried heading past Subrata Paul in after a Nandhakumar free-kick.
Sunday’s striker Amiri forced a save from Paul at half-hour mark, with Nandhakumar setting him up after Charles had played him through. Charles found himself in a one-on-one situation moments later but succumbed to pressure from Shivajians’ Irish defender Shane Charles Alan McFaul.
Shivajians responded quickly on 37 minutes as Spaniard Quero Barraso collected a loose ball from eight yards out on the back of a defensive gaffe only for Karanjit to come off the line to stake a claim of the ball.
Match Highlights : Chennai City FC 1-1 DSK Shivajians
Five minutes later, Marcos Vinicius, who had been invisible since then earned a free-kick in a dangerous position, which Nandhakumar sent in to assist Amiri’s opener from a bullet header.
Shivajians gaffer David Rogers seemed to have delivered a motivating pep-talk during the break as the men in red looked more vibrant than their usual selves.
Despite their obvious urgency, the bottom-half affair remained end-to-end as the Chennai attackers continued to maraud the attacking half. Soundararajan refused to break down the momentum as be brought on attacker Michael Soosairaj to replace luxury player Tank. Shivajians, on the other hand, only made a forced substitution as the battered Lallawmawma made way for Chennaiyin loanee Jerry Lalrinzuala.
Chennai looked gassed as Shivajians enjoyed more possession than the hists in the second half. Their Liverpool-born coach sent in strikers Holicharan Narzary and 17-year-old Pranjal Bhumi, sacrificing Sanju Pradhan and Lalthathanga.
Soundararajan, however, seemed unconvinced with the slender lead as he brought on Santos Trophy regular Reagan Albarnas to replace Nandhakumar. Chennai lost Amiri to injury five minutes from time as he needed to be stretchered off after putting in the donkey-work for the entirety of 85 minutes.
A Shivajians goal was a long time coming as the Chennai players struggled to even run. An unmarked McFaul collected the ball near the penalty box after a clumsy Chennai clearance to send a low volley past hapless Karanjit.
Shivajians move above Minerva Punjab thanks to their superior goal difference as they now sit seventh seventh. Chennai remain rooted to the bottom as they look to host defending champions Bengaluru on Wednesday night.