Panaji, Dec 10: Despite playing with ten men for seventy odd minutes, SC East Bengal, inspired by a solid performance from their defenders, held Jamshedpur FC to a 0-0 draw and earned their first point in their fourth Hero Indian Super League fixture, at Tilak Maidan, Vasco on Thursday.
SCEB Head Coach Robbie Fowler made four changes to the starting line-up from the previous game against NorthEast United FC, as Surchandra Singh, Debjit Majumder, Balwant Singh and Wahengbam Angousana made way for Sankar Roy, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Md Rafique. This was Sankar’s Hero Indian Super League debut.
Playing their second ‘home’ fixture of the season, SCEB’s defense was put to test by the visitors, who dominated possession and made frequent inroads into the hosts’ 18-yard area through the first half.
The Red-and-Golds had one of their rare opportunities of going 1-0 up in the first quarter when Anthony Pilkington dribbled past a few JFC defenders to send a through ball to Jeje in the 20th minute, which was safely collected by JFC goalkeeper Rehenesh T.P.
In the 25th minute, SCEB were dealt with a major blow when midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh received a red card for accidentally tripping on JFC’s Alexandre Lima, after having been booked twice in the space of four minutes.
Despite the hosts being reduced to ten men, JFC failed to get themselves on the scoresheet, with most of their shots going off target and the SCEB defenders making timely clearances inside their box.
In the second half, SCEB adopted a more defensive approach as Angousana replaced Jeje immediately after half time to add more solidity to the space in front of the backline.
However, a hamstring strain forced goalkeeper Sankar Roy to walk off in the 61st minute, with Debjit Majumder coming on to replace him.
Owen Coyle’s side, meanwhile, pushed hard for a lead as Jackichand Singh came on for Mohammad Mobashir in the 67th minute, in a bid to add more strength to JFC’s attacking force.
The visitors came close to breaking the deadlock in the 70th minute when Aitor Monroy sent a vicious cross in the direction of Lima from a free kick, whose attempted volley hit the crossbar and went out for a goal kick.
The last quarter of the match saw a lot of traffic in the middle of the park as both teams looked to win the ball from each other, but were unable to produce any fruitful result in the attacking third.
JFC played the final four minutes of the stoppage time with 10 men as Renthlei was given his marching orders, after he received his second yellow card for pushing Jacques Maghoma from behind.
SCEB’s Md Irshad was adjudged the Player of the Match.
Speaking about the hard-fought contest at the post-match Press conference, SCEB Head Coach Robbie Fowler said, ‘I told the players to regroup [after Lyngdoh’s red card]…I don’t think any decisions were going our way and it was a situation of everything against us, but we needed to go out there and defend like we know we can. So, it was a case of shut up shop, don’t concede and it was important that we got the point on the back of three losses. I think it was a huge point for us in the end.’
SCEB play Hyderabad FC next, at Tilak Maidan on December 15.