Pune FC’s dominating display fell short against Mumbai FC with a goalless draw in an I-league Round 10 encounter at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi, on Sunday.
The draw was Pune FC third in the league, but importantly it extended their unbeaten run to four matches. Pune FC took their points tally to 15, but the ‘luckless draw’ that they played out this weekend had its effects as they slipped to seventh place.
The game for Pune FC was a case of missed chances apart from the opponents constantly delaying proceedings falling to every possible tackle particularly in the second half to slow down the game.
Two chances, one in either half added to Pune FC’s woes. Incidentally, both were from their strikers Jeje Lalpekhlua and Mandjou Keita.
After setting the tone by constantly raiding the Mumbai FC half, it was in the sixth minute when Pune FC almost took the lead. Skipper Mandjou Keita dashing off on the right did well to beat defender Dhanachandra Singh with a tap over leading to cross in same motion to his fellow striker Jeje Lalpekhlua positioned inside the box. Jeje, with the open chance managed a soft try from six yards out, but straight to the ‘keeper Nidhin Lal who fumbled, but gathered before the rebound.
Pune FC worked well with both Lester Fernandes and Douhou Pierre constantly supplying passed to both wing half – Karma Tsweang on the right and Paresh Shivalkar on the left. While most of the runs came from the right with Keita in assistance, it was Karma who hurried with a pass that Jeje pulled back from the left. Result: the unmarked Karma went wide from top of the box.
Keita’s pace proved to be a pain for the Mumbai FC defence. The striker in his moments of individual brilliance created chances aplenty.
Half an hour into the game, Lester from his own half released to Jeje, who in-turn did well to follow and head back to Keita who had his half volley go over.
With the game nearing the end of the first half, Karma did well to win a ball from the onrushing Haroon Fakhruddin leaving Keita in the clear. The striker raced in, but from a yard inside the box instead of finishing opted to pass which was cleared.
In the second half, Pune FC continued where they left off. Ten minutes after resumption Keita with a brilliant steal from defender Peter Siddiqui found himself clear inside the box, but a slight delay in his second touch ended the otherwise brilliant anticipation.
Lester then had his try go over after Gurjinder Kumar put Karma in the clear on the left, then Chika Wali had his well-directed header stick into the foot of a defender who eventually cleared inside the eight-yard box to pain every Pune FC fan in the stadium.
Seventy minutes on and Pune FC had Keita miss a square pass that Jeje toed on from five yards out with the keeper saving the day with a timely block. Srikanth Ramu who sent in a long cross from the right initiated the move.
Keita’s soft looping header off a Srikanth cross to the top of the goalmouth, which the keeper collected and an loose ball chased by Mumbai FC’s Gbeneme Friday that led to custodian Abhra Mondal needing to leap high on the goalline to collect ended the game in a stalemate.
The draw meant that both Pune FC and Mumbai FC still remain on evens whenever they played met in Pune. So far they met thrice in the city and all have ended in draws.