ATK played their first match after their historic amalgamation with century-old Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan AC. While the Mohun Bagan fans have divided opinions about the merger, the stands at the Salt Lake stadium depicted strong support for ATK as 23,000 people made things harder for the Goan side. The game started on flat note but gained its spark in the second half with the deadlock being broken. It was an all Indian show in the scorecard as Pritam Kotal and super-sub Jayesh Rane scored the winners for the hosts.
The first half showcased a complete flat game as both the teams spend almost the whole first quarter judging each other as Goa tried to build up square passes in the middle of the park whereas the hosts aimed at maintaining their defensive shape. Goa came out with more shots but failed to keep a single one on target as they twice hit the side net from the fair chances that they gained.
On the other hand, ATK kept a couple of shots on target with Roy Krishna and Jobby Just trying to get their names on the score sheet. For the past three matches, Roy Krishna has struggled to score a goal and has continued to find things harder to make his run behind Mourtada Fall. Jobby Justin made his first start of the season for ATK and made a good mark. The Keralite almost got a goal in his name in the 25th min as he missed a free header as Hernandez curled the ball perfectly from a corner. Soosairaj seemed a bit dull today as the winger failed to add the extra pace that he is known for making the ATK offence a bit blunt till the break. The Gaurs on the other side showed a good passing game as they dominated the midfield but they lacked a target man in the upfront to break the deadlock.
The score changed just after the break as ATK defender Pritam Kotal scored a stunner in the 47th minute when Roy Krishna took a through ball along the byline and then chipped it into the centre of the box creating a set piece from the training ground that Kotal did justice by heading rightly. The game gradually gained its pace as the flood gate was opened. The flying tigers came up with a pressing game in the fourth quarter as Roy Krishna and Jobby Justin continued to pierce apart the Goan defence.
The visitors got back to the game with some physical attributes as Boumas along with Fall started to make their presence felt to the opposition with their tough tackles. Jobby Justin was brought back to the dugout as the flying tigers now shifted to single striker adding Jayesh Rane to the midfield and pushing Victor Mongil to a defensive screen.
Sergio Lobera made his first change of the night by bringing in Saviour Gama in place of Lenn Doungel in the 69th minute to be a saviour to the Goan defence. The Gaur’s missed another chance at the end of the fifth quarter when Gama completely miscued a pass from Manvir Singh. Goa made a double substitution in the last quarter as they brought in Sana and Edu Bedia in place of Pena and Mandar, respectively. But nothing changed for the visitors as the situation worsened when Jayesh Rane scored in the 87th minute from a brilliant cross from Roy Krishna leaving aside and compensating the mistake that the former did just a few minutes ago as he missed to push the ball just outside the line in the 82nd minute. It was Roy Krishna, who once again became a saviour but this time with two assists instead of goals.
ATK once again came back to their winning terms as they make way to the top of the table with 24 points out of 12 games. The Flying Tigers are set to face NorthEast United in the next fixture at home. The Antonio Lopez Habas coached side once again made the top wars a game of neck to neck as the league progresses.