Martin Paterson had given the Bengal Tigers an early lead in the match.
Change in coach brought no change in fortunes for ATK as the defending champions succumbed to Chennaiyin FC 1-2 in the Hero Indian Super League clash at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata, on Thursday.
Watch: ATK 1-2 Chennaiyin FC Highlights
The departure of Teddy Sheringham meant technical director Ashley Westwood was handed charge as interim chief coach. The man who took Bengaluru FC to the top of Indian football in the I-League and Federation Cup started his ISL career on a losing note, despite his team surging ahead through debutant Martin Paterson in the 44th minute.
Chennaiyin FC struck back in the second session as Mailson Alves scored his first ever goal in the ISL to bring Chennaiyin on level terms in the 51st minute and then Jeje Lalpekhlua scored his seventh goal of the season to give visitors all three points in the 64th minute.
The victory took Chennaiyin FC to the top of the table, jumping two places with 23 points from 12 matches. ATK are still not out of the race but with just 12 points from 11 matches, they have left themselves with too much to do for the rest of their campaign.
ATK interim coach Ashley Westwood tried to inject freshness into the team. He left Zequinha on the bench for the first time in this campaign. That Zequinha was needed in the first half itself because Ryan Taylor was injured, and Zequinha got injured in the second session tossed up home team’s plans.
Expectedly, both teams played safe at the start and hardly took any risk. Both tried their luck from a distance and it was not until the 35th minute that any of the team had a shot on goal. It were Chennaiyin FC who tested the rival goalkeeper with attempts but Debjit Majumder didn’t have to do much when Raphael Augusto and Anirudh Thapa tried to break the deadlock.
The deadlock was broken in the 44th minute but it was ATK who got the first success, despite Chennaiyin FC doing most of the attacking. Debutant Martin Paterson scored for ATK as he headed Paterson’s cross which goalkeeper Karanjit Singh saved but the rebound struck Paterson and hurried into the goal. It was the 150th goal of the league this season.
Chennaiyin FC got their rewards in the second session. Anirudh Thapa did well to float a corner-kick into the middle and an unmarked Alves headed it past the goalkeeper into the back of the net.
Chennaiyin’s winner came through a lucky Jeje as he benefitted most when Inigo Calderon played the ball towards the near post and goalkeeper Debjit Majumder palmed it onto Jeje!
ATK now face the defence heavy Jamshedpur FC on 28 January.