The two teams gave it their all but the breakthrough goal eluded both sides in a close contest…
DSK Shivajians and Mohun Bagan played out a 0-0 draw the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune on Tuesday evening but the scoreline fails to tell the true story. In a game filled with chances for either side, the teams will feel hard done by, after doing everything but score. Mohun Bagan came into the match with a 100% win record but DSK Shivajians gave a fantastic account of themsleves, even dominating the game for great periods of it.
For the home side, Shane McPaul was the big name missing from the squad. The 31-year-old was taken off after the hour mark in the game against Churchill Brothers but was not even part of the matchday squad. Experienced keeper Subrata Paul remained out of action too. Coming in to the side for their first starts of the season were Sumeet Passi and youth player Sairuatkima. Dave Rogers continuing to blood in youngsters in his team, having six U-22 players in his matchday squad.
Mohun Bagan themselves made only a solitary change to their starting XI. They brought in midfielder Bikramjit Singh in for Souvik Chakrabarti, in a like for like change. The Mariners continued with their in-form forward line of Haitian Sony Norde, top scorer Darryl Duffy and Indian star Jeje Laklpekhlua. Centre-back Eduardo Ferreira returned to the Balewadi Sports Complex after spending the 2016 ISL season with FC Pune City.
It was DSK who kicked us off in this match and the home team nearly scored within the frist thirty seconds of the match, after Kim Song-Yong was put through on goal but the North Korean was inches wide off the mark. As the game settled down, the visitors were able to get a foot in the game, troubling the DSK defence, especially through left winger Norde.
The Shivajians were not one to be overawed by their opposition, though, taking the game to the league leaders. Dave Rogers’ side matched every cross and every tackle Mohun Bagan threw at them. While the game was a battle in midfield for a large part of the half, it was Mohun Bagan who had been able to create half chances for themselves. Lalpekhlua went closest for the visitors, but his snapshot was deflected just wide.
The first half’s best chance fell to Kim in the 39th minute, when he received the ball in space in the box after Juan Quero had headed the ball on. The No. 9 took control of the ball with a great first touch but his shot went agonisingly close as it struck the post on its way out. Quero was unable to keep the follow-up along the ground.
DSK Shivajians survived a scare in stoppage time after Yusa Katsumi drew his free kick wide. The half reached an end with the scores still level.
19-year-old Lallianzuala Chhangte came on for DSK Shivajians at the break and the young winger almost made an instant impact for his side. Chhangte got on the end of a loose ball in the box but was denied by a wonderful save from Debjit Majumder, the keeper diving low to his left in an instant. The home side were the dominant side in the first quarter of the second half and had the ball in the back of the net through Sasha Kolunija but the centre-back appeared to have fouled his marker in the process. Chhangte missed a great chance moments later, poking it straight to goalkeeper as the hour mark approached.
Mohun Bagan, who found it tough going in the second half under a storm of DSK pressing and passing were forced to make their first substitution of the game as centre-back Eduardo Ferreira was withdrawn through injury. Former Pune FC defender Anas Edathodika was brought on in his stead. The Mariners finally were able to produce their first real chances in the second half, with both Yusa Katsumi and Sony Norde drawing decent saves out of Soram Poirei.
Mohun Bagan went on the front foot in the final fifteen minutes of the contest, with great attempts from both Katsumi and Subhashish Bose almost put Sanjoy Sen’s side in the lead. Subhashish hit the post with a shot on the turn, the ball rollinmg across goal and wide. A minute later, Yusa Katsumi was denied by a sharp save from Poirei, the young goalkeeper again impressing with his shot stopping.
As the game drew its last breaths, both teams put in their everything but settled for a draw after running themselves to the ground.
Both teams will feel they could have achieved more from the game, but will take the point, heading into the next round. DSK Shivajians now travel to Aizawl FC, while Mohun Bagan also play Aizawl a bit later in their next game.