East Bengal and Jamshedpur played out a goalless draw with East Bengal playing with one man short for over an hour
With zero points and as many goals in the account, SC East Bengal was desperate for a win against the ‘Men of Steel’ in their debut season in Hero Indian Super League. The Red and Gold Brigade had conceded 7 goals before today’s match and they also lacked a quality finisher to make the most of the opportunities created by Anthony Pilkington and Jacques Maghoma.
Robbie Fowler needed more than usual contribution from his Indian forwards to salvage at least one point from the match, nevertheless he deployed only one striker in the starting XI in the form of Jeje Lalpekhlua. Owen Coyle started with three strikers up front (Valskis, Aniket Jadhav, and William Lalnunfela), making his intentions clear that he was going for the kill against an injury depleted Red and Gold side. Both the teams were keen to collect their first clean sheets and both parties succeeded in the end. It was an entertaining game altogether, barring few blunders from the referee.
- Harsh red cards on Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Laldinliana Renthlei :
Eugene was seeking redemption this season as the past two seasons were unexceptional for him, but the referee had other plans. Even though the first yellow card waved against him for a foul against Laldinliana was a fair decision, the second yellow was indeed a harsh decision when he attempted to clear the ball from Alex Monteiro de Lima. This irrational decision scrapped whatever hopes left in the East Bengal camp coming into this match. Laldinliana Renthlei also faced a difficult to swallow judgement as the first yellow waved at him shouldn’t have been a booking.
- The Indian attacking duo of Jamshedpur FC:
Right from the kick-off itself, Mobashir and William made inroads into East Bengal defence now and then. More than Nerijus Valskis, the talismanic striker who is the top scorer of the current season, it was this Indian duo who created a headache for the defenders of SC East Bengal. Both had one common weapon in their arsenal which was pace. Mohammed Irshad and Narayan Das struggled to keep up with the pace of these local players.
- Substandard performance by the referees :
Both on-field referee and linesmen made quite a few abysmal decisions including the red cards and few off-side calls. The red card incidents will boost the uproar against referees and demand for VAR in ISL. The on-field referee at times forgot that there is a provision of playing advantage and that thwarted the free flow of the game. SC East Bengal players were furious and didn’t hesitate to have some words with referee when they were on the attack and referee halted that by not playing advantage. Around 4 off-side calls made by linesmen were proved to be wrong in replays.
- The hardworking midfielders of East Bengal :
Matti Steinmann and Anthony Pilkington deserve a round of applause for controlling the game in the midfield, despite going one man down before 30 minutes into the game. Pilkington is exceptionally calm when the ball is at his feet and he is amazingly good at dribbling. In the coming matches, we can expect some spectacular assists and solo goals from the Irishman. Steinmann, the youth exponent from Hamburger SV, made some attractive moves in the first half.
- Flawed team selection of Robbie Fowler :
A team that is desperate to score goals should have started with at least two forwards, especially when they don’t have a quality foreign forward. Instead of Eugeneson, Fowler should have deployed Balwant or Vineeth along with Jeje who is struggling with his fitness. Jeje had no pace or technique to outsmart the experienced centre-back partnership of Peter Hartley and Stephen Eze. One less midfielder would have made no difference as Pilkington, Maghoma, and Steinmann were combining well to create opportunities. There were few instances in where Pilkington hesitated to pass the ball to Jeje and tried to move forward and score, probably due to lack of trust in his forward. Fowler replaced Jeje with Wahengbam Luwang and Maghoma played as the sole striker in the second half.
To conclude, Jamshedpur team need to introspect on how they failed to collect all three points despite having a man advantage for almost 65 minutes of the game. East Bengal needs to ponder further to end their goal drought, nevertheless it was a resilient performance from SCEB as they didn’t concede a goal despite going one man down in the 25th minute.