Ryan Williams’ goal helps Bengaluru get back to winning ways
Having made a statement in the winter transfer window, Bengaluru returned to winning ways in the second game of Matchday 14 of the 2023-24 Indian Super League season. The Blues defeated Chennaiyin by a 1-0 margin at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday with the only goal of the match scored by Ryan Williams.
Bengaluru head coach Gerard Zaragoza made three changes to the team that suffered a 1-3 loss against Punjab. Nikhil Poojary was handed his first start for the Blues in Slavko Damjanovic’s place, while Harsh Patre and Shivaldo Singh replaced Rohit Kumar and Lalremtluanga Fanai respectively.
On the other hand, Chennaiyin head coach Owen Coyle made four changes to his last starting XI, which played in the Kalinga Super Cup. Debjit Majumder, Ankit Mukherjee, Mobashir Rahman, and Ninthoinganba Meetei were handed starts with Samik Mitra, Lazar Cirkovic, Alexander Romario Jesuraj, and Cristian Battocchoi making way for them.
Within the first six seconds of the match, Shivaldo crossed the ball into the six-yard area but Williams failed to establish enough contact with the ball to guide it towards the goal.
Chennaiyin had an opportunity next when a delivery from Jordan Murray found Rahim Ali in space, but the youngster could not keep his header on target. In the 9th minute, Williams pulled the trigger, but his shot was directed straight at Debjit.
The initial exchanges of the game did not produce any clear-cut chances, although teams were happy to try their luck from a distance. Rafael Crivellaro did so in the 14th minute, but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was alert under the sticks for the hosts.
Just before the half-hour mark, a cross from Javi Hernandez was met by Sunil Chhetri, although the Bengaluru skipper could not find the target. Roles were reversed in the 35th minute when Chhetri became the provided for Hernandez, but the Spaniard was wasteful too.
The first half ended with Chennaiyin finding their way back into the game, first with a Crivellaro shot and then with a Murray header. However, neither of the two overseas stars had luck on their side on Wednesday.
The two goalkeepers of this match, Gurpreet and Debjit, barely had anything to do. While there were a total of 22 attempts in this fixture, only four of them were on target, which shows how wayward attackers from both teams were.
The first ten minutes of the second half saw both Bengaluru and Chennaiyin get two chances each. But while Patre and Williams missed for the Blues, Crivellaro and Connor Shields squandered chances for the Marina Machans.
But the game turned on its head when Zaragoza introduced Halicharan Narzary and new signing, Oliver Drost just before the hour mark. In the 57th minute, the Danish striker found Williams with a good pass, but the Aussie could not pounce on the chance. Drost also laid off a pass for Patre, but he too could not convert.
After plenty of wasted opportunities, the goal finally came in the 62nd minute. A defense-splitting pass from Narzary found Williams, who then made a run past Chennaiyin’s two central defenders, his namesake Ryan Edwards and Sarthak Golui. Having beaten both, the former Fulham attacker then calmly slotted his shot past Debjit to make it 1-0 for Bengaluru.
The next few minutes saw Chennaiyin do all they could to get an equalizer, but they simply lacked the quality to do the same. Coyle tried to change things by bringing on the likes of Irfan Yadwad, Vincy Barretto, and Farukh Choudhary, but none of those substitutes had any effect on the game whatsoever.
In the 84th minute, a delivery from Shields found Edwards in space, but the English defender’s header was not on target. In the third minute of injury time, right-back Ankit Mukherjee floated a delightful cross and Farukh did well to meet it, but his header was directed straight at Gurpreet.
Against the run of play, Narzary had a chance in the fifth minute of added time, but having been the assist provider earlier, he could not get his name on the scoresheet. The last chance of the game fell to Chennaiyin when Edwards got his head to a cross once again, but he could not find the target once again.With this win, Bengaluru has taken a giant leap in the points table rising from 11th position to sixth in the league standings with 14 points from 14 matches. The Blues’ next assignment is against Jamshedpur on Sunday while Chennaiyin is 10th with 12 points from 13 matches and will face Kerala Blasters next Friday.