PANJIM: Chennaiyin FC were left frustrated following their goalless draw against SC East Bengal in the Indian Super League match played at Athletic Stadium, Bambolim, on Monday.
SC East Bengal were forced to play with a man down for more than an hour after debutant Ajay Chhetri received marching orders for his double booking at the half hour mark. The youngster’s antics were uncalled for and Robbie Fowler definitely wouldn’t be happy with the new signing.
But it was Debjit Majumder’s heroics which ensured Fowler his seventh game unbeaten run while Chennaiyin FC also remained unbeaten in their last three games.
Anthony Pilkington started the game along with Jacques Maghoma and Bright Enobakhare for the first time this season. New signing Ajay Chhetri was also handed his first start which didn’t last long after the lad received a red early in the game.
For Chennaiyin FC, Edwin Vanspaul made his second start of the season, coming in place of Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev.
The early moments of the game saw some high tackles flying in which saw Ajay receive and early booking for his untimely challenge on Anirudh Thapa. The loan signee, who was initially pardoned, was booked for his continuous argument with the referee.
Chennaiyin FC had the first chance in the 23rd minute when Thapa free-kick into the box found Eli Sabia and the Brazilian crossed the ball into the area to an unmarked Sipovic, who couldn’t get the header on target.
East Bengal soon found themselves on their back foot at the half-hour when Ajay received his second booking on his offense on Rahim Ali, thus reducing them to 10 men. This is the third time in ISL 7 Fowler’s side has received red in the match.
Taking the numerical advantage, Chennaiyin FC pressed their opponents and nearly took the lead when Jerry Lalrinzuala played Esmael Goncalves on line, who set it through to Thapa into the box. The midfielder managed to roll the ball past onrushing Debjit Majumder, but couldn’t get his shot goalward. Narayan Das was fastest to clear the ball to safety before Rahim could get onto the end of the ball.
SC East Bengal managed to keep their opponents at bay in the final 15 minutes of the half, as the teams walked even at the break.
East Bengal looked threatening after the restart and should have found the back of the net. Surchandra Singh's whipped in a cross from the left which Enes Sipovic cleared only to be blocked by Sabia and the ball landed to Pilkington but the last name couldn't make the best of the opportunity as he hit the side netting.
Debjit pulled off a stunning save to deny Isma from the edge of the box to keep the scores level.
At the other end, Chennaiyin defense were caught napping as a long free-kick saw Pilkington try his luck at goal, but Kaith made a fine block.
East Bengal were saved by couple of Debjit saves late in the game. The custodian cleared the ball in time coming off the line to deny Rahim. He later showed good reflexes when he dived full to get a strong hand to block Chhangte’s goal-bound shot.