SC East Bengal and Jamshedpur FC played out a goalless draw in their Indian Super League (ISL) match tonight. The highlight of the match was as much East Bengal’s stubborn resistance as it was the quality of the refereeing on display. With this result, the Red and Golds finally open their account for the season and head coach Robbie Fowler would want this to be the springboard for better results going forward.
Fowler made four changes to the side that started against NorthEast United as Jeje Lalpekhlua, Mohammad Rafique, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and goalkeeper Sankar Roy all came in. On the other hand, Owen Coyle made just one change as Aniket Jadhav came in for Jackichand Singh.
Most of the clear cut chances in the match fell to Jamshedpur FC. The first one was from a beautiful through ball by Mobashir Rahman for Aniket Jadhav which the latter shot over the bar from a one-on-one situation. Soon after, Laldinliana Renthlei’s cross from the right was volleyed just wide by Nerijus Valskis.
Then came the first contentious moment in the match. Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who was starting his first game this season and had already seen a yellow, and Alex Lima went for a loose ball. Lyngdoh reached the ball first but his attempted right-footed swipe completely missed the ball and seemed to catch Lima on his shin. Eventually, the referee showed him a second yellow amidst protests from the Jamshedpur FC players led by Aitor Monroy.
That was the moment when the referee lost control of the game. He set the benchmark really low and started showing cards for offences that did not warrant them. Amidst all the flying tackles, Stephen Eze came close next as his header from a corner struck the post. Alex Lima was next to hit the post with his long ranger from outside the box as East Bengal held on. Sehnaj Singh and Mohammed Irshad were both absolutely brilliant for the Kolkata giants as they were practically impenetrable for the whole match.
As time went on, Jamshedpur FC time and again squandered their chances and kept squabbling amongst themselves. It seemed like Robbie Fowler’s men might even nick it at the end. They came close with Matti Steinmann’s header in the second half which went wide and was wrongly adjudged as offside. Jeje was kept quiet throughout by the brilliant Peter Hartley though and in the end it was another refereeing call that underlined the chaos that was this match.
Laldinliana Renthlei, who was already on a yellow, went into the back of Jacques Maghoma who made the most of absolutely minimal contact. The referee was once again quick to adjudge it as a second yellow card offence much to the bemusement of the player himself. In the end though, East Bengal will be the happier team with a point while Owen Coyle would surely regard this as a missed opportunity. The Men of Steel rise up to 5th with this point and play Mumbai City next. Conversely, the debutants of the season stay bottom and face off against Hyderabad FC in their next match.