In spite of dominating proceedings for prolonged periods, Mumbai failed to score and had to settle for a goalless draw against Minerva Punjab FC, consecutively their third in as many matches at home.
A disallowed goal for off side in the 11th minute and some brilliant saves by Minerva goalkeeper Arnab Das Sharma thwarted the Mumbai side’s efforts to garner a win, which would have lifted the morale of the team and its legion of fans.
Santosh Kashyap made two changes to the side that faced Bengaluru in the last encounter, bringing in Nikhil Kadam and Clyde Fernandes for Farukh Chowdhary and Brazilian Alex Silva. With captain Densill Theobald, Nikhil Kadam and Pratesh Shirodkar holding sway in the midfield, there were plenty of balls being pushed upwards, resulting in quite a few chances, but the services of a sharpshooter were sorely missed as most of the effort at goal either lacked direction or were too weak to bother the goalkeeper. The few attempts that were on mark were kept away by Arnab, whose showing rightly earned him the Man of the Match award.
There could have been joy in the Mumbai camp as early as the 11th minute when Brazilian forward Anderson D Silva’s snap header minute beat a diving Minerva keeper Arnab Das Sharma but was it ruled offside. Afghan import Djelaluddin then blasted over from in front of goal after a loose ball from a flag kick found him in front of the goal. In the 35th minute Nkhil Kadam played it short to Pratesh Shirodkar, from a flag kick who swung it in and found Thoi Singh. Thoi connected well, forcing a sharp save from Arnab Das diving full length to his left.
Kashyap brought in Brazilian midfielder Alex Silva at the start of the 2nd half, but he too could not produce any special magic and the though the action remained focussed in the Minerva half, the match winner remained elusive.
“I am not frustrated with the result because I had prepared the side well and we dominated for a majority of the match,” said Kashyap. However, he said he was still happy that the team has stopped the losing slide and he was confident that the wins would begin to come. “Our aim was the top three but we need to see how things build up in the future.” Mumbai now have 9 points and continue to remain in second last place in the points table.
Kashyap admitted that it was tough position to be in and said that though three points would have been ideal, he was not unduly worried about his team getting into the relegation zone. “The six losses have surely hurt us, but a win or a couple of draws would have been better. However, I am confident that we will not only avoid relegation but also finish creditably,” he added.
Minerva Punjab FC coach Surinder Singh was pleased with his team’s performance crediting his defenders and goalkeeper for the point they managed to snatch and extend their unbeaten streak to six matches. “We defended well from set pieces today and the defence was backed well by the goalkeeper.”
Mumbai next travel away to Aizawl as they face the Mizoram team on 4th March at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium!