Resolute Jamshedpur cement 2nd place after edging past ATK Mohun Bagan
Jamshedpur passed the ATK Mohun Bagan test with flying colors as Owen Coyle’s men staged a 2-1 win against the Mariners. With this win, the Men of Steel extended their unbeaten start to the season and climbed to the second spot in the 2021-22 Indian Super League points table.
Coyle brought back Peter Hartley in the backline to deal with the threat posed by the potent multi-star attack posed by the Mariners as Narender Gehlot sat out of the match. Former ATK Mohun Bagan midfielder Pronay Halder slotted in the middle of the park as Alex Lima made way for the veteran to balance the overseas quota.
On the other hand, Antonio Lopez Habas went with a slightly more risky lineup and fielded an all-Indian backline shifting Carl McHugh to midfield replacing the suspended Deepak Tangri. Sumit Rathi came in for Tangri and Liston Colaco made way for former NorthEast United defender Ashutosh Mehta to tighten a defense that conceded 5 goals in 45 minutes against Mumbai City.
The Red Miners had a bright start as Komal Thatal tested Amrinder Singh early on but he was clearly up to the task. The ATK Mohun Bagan custodian was called to action once again when Greg Stewart came up with a thunderous shot but the India international stood stall once again.
After a sedate period of play, Jitendra Singh made a darting run before laying the ball in Seiminlen Doungel’s path who calmly slotted it past Singh to hand Jamshedpur the crucial lead in the 37th minute.
The Mariners almost came up with an instantaneous reply in the 42nd minute when Roy Krishna’s rasping effort from a tight angle almost restored parity but a timely clearance from Eli Sabia helped Jamshedpur maintain their lead. The Kolkata-based team got a few half-chances but Coyle’s men did well to head into the half-time break with a 1-0 lead.
The initial phases of the second half were less about guilt-edged chances and more about a tactical fight for midfield supremacy. With his Plan A not paying dividends, Habas switched to Plan B by bringing on Prabir Das and David Williams in place of Sumit Rathi and Carl McHugh, switching his formation and adding more firepower to his attack.
After the hour mark, Jamshedpur received a flurry of corners and from one of those flag-kicks, the ball fell kindly to Jitendra, who did well to keep his volley on target, but Ashutosh Mehta was alert to the danger and cleared the ball off the line
The game intensified when a counter-attacking move from Hugo Boumous was stopped in its tracks by an agricultural tackle from Halder. In repercussion, the Frenchman pushed Halder to the ground and both should consider themselves extremely lucky to escape without a red card for their actions.
In the 80th minute, Colaco laid the ball off to Williams and a volley with supreme technique and power was unleashed by the Australian striker but TP Rehenesh did well to save the shot and preserve his clean sheet as well.
In the 84th minute, Coyle played his hand by replacing Stewart with Lima got his reward almost instantly when the Brazilian found himself in a great position near the penalty area and struck a well-directed left-footed shot to double Jamshepdur’s lead.
The Mariners did eventually reduce the deficit when Rehenesh made the initial save but the ball ricocheted in the penalty area and struck Mehta to cross the goal line. Replays showed Pritam Kotal had the last touch of the ball and the ATK Mohun Bagan skipper was in an offside position but Jamshedpur’s appeals fell on the referee’s deaf ears.
Habas’ men had a big chance to score the equalizer but they failed to make it count as the last Green and Maroons chance saw the ball kindly falling for Kauko in space but his rushed effort grazed wide past the post.
It was a commendable defensive effort from Men of Steel to hold out one of the best-attacking units of this competition and they will now take on the reigning champions Mumbai City on Thursday while ATK Mohun Bagan will eye a comeback against Chennaiyin on Saturday.