Super-sub Ishan Pandita was on target again as Jamshedpur FC edged past SC East Bengal 1-0 at the Athletic stadium in Bambolim, Goa to go top of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) on Tuesday.
SC East Bengal who became the first-ever team to field an all-Indian starting XI in the history of the Hero ISL defended astutely for most parts of the match but succumbed to a Pandita strike (88’) to fall to their fifth defeat this season.
The Men of Steel went top of Hero ISL in the second half of the season for the first time in their history with the victory.
The tone was set early in the contest as Jamshedpur FC dominated proceedings from the outset as SC East Bengal were happy to deny them space and then try and hit them on the counter-attack.
The ploy worked well for Renedy Singh’s men in the first half as they resisted the Jamshepdur FC pressure with relative ease. There were a few half chances for Owen Coyle’s side but the two sides went into the break goalless and without a shot on target.
Jordan Murray was unlucky not to open the scoring in the 52nd minute when his powerful header some distance from the goal struck against the crossbar before going out.
SC East Bengal were then forced into a change as Adil Khan got injured and was replaced by Darren Sidoel who became the first foreign player to take part for the Red and Gold brigade on the night.
Coyle threw on Pandita just before the hour mark as Jamshedpur FC chased the victory. Murray then came close again in the 74th minute when his shot from the edge of the box went just wide.
The Australian again got a chance in the 85th minute when Greg Stewart found him in space inside the box but his shot on the turn was weak as Arindam Bhattacharja gobbled it.
However, it was Pandita who broke the deadlock three minutes later when he scored from a textbook header at the near post from a corner.
The goal broke SC East Bengal hearts but sent Jamshedpur FC into celebration as they went two points clear at the top of the table. The Red and Gold brigade remained bottom.
Coyle’s side are back in action on Monday as they take on fellow semi-final contenders Hyderabad FC. SC East Bengal will face FC Goa on January 19 which will see head coach Marco Rivera take charge of the team for the first time.
Let’s find out how did the players from both teams performed on Tuesday night.
Jamshedpur FC (By JN Balraj)
Pawan Kumar (GK) – 6.5
The custodian wasn’t disturbed much in the game as his one save guaranteed the three points and another clean sheet.
Laldinliana Renthlei – 7.0
An industrious shift from the full back. He had 92 touches, the most in the game, with two key passes and as many crosses to his name. He also played two direct balls and made two clearances and one interception defensively.
Eli Sabia – 7.0
The Brazilian was a commanding figure at the heart of defence. His eight clearances and an interception speaks for him. He also won all seven of his aerial duels.
Peter Hartley – 6.5
Captain Hartley held his defence line with composure against SC East Bengal’s counter attacks. He registered five clearances, one tackle and four succesful aerial duels.
Ricky Lallawmawma – 6.5
Ricky produced another immense display on the left flank with his 53 touches and 84% accurate passes. He also attempted five crosses and made a clearance.
Mobashir Rahman – 5.5
In his second start of the season, Mobashir failed to impress much. He made three tackles defensively, and will look to improve his link up play.
Jitendra Singh – 6.5
The youngster is getting better with every game. He dictated the play well in the absence of Alex Lima. He made 29 passes and won three aerial duels.
Seiminlen Doungel – 6.0
Len made three tackles and produced another decent overall performance, but his mere three passes didn’t help the team and was eventually subbed on the hour mark.
Greg Stewart – 7.5
Greg assisted the winner from a corner in the final minutes. He also made six key passes and completed three crosses and as many direct balls. The Scot also completed two dribbles and won four duels for his side.
Boris Singh – 7.0
The winger picked from where he left off at the last game, playing two key passes with one cross. Boris made two tackles and won six duels and was impressive on the flanks.
Jordan Murray – 7.0
The forward was unlucky not to score as he was denied by the crossbar and some brilliant saves from Arindam. He took five shots, keeping three of them on target.
Ishan Pandita – 7.5
Ishan was given more game time after his heroics at the last game and again saved the day for Men of Steel with a 88th minute winner. He also made a tackle, clearance and interception each.
Alex Lima – 6.5
Alex Lima provided the creativity Jamshedpur FC lacked in his absence. The Brazilian completed two dribbles and recorded seven passes with a clearance in the limited minutes he got under his belt.
Narender Gehlot – 6.0
Narender replaced Peter Hartley to accommodate Alex Lima in the midfield. He guarded the goal well with Eli Sabia to ensure the win.
SC East Bengal (by Rajdeep Saha)
Arindam Bhattacharya (GK) – 7.0
Another solid performance from the seasoned custodian. He couldn’t have saved the brilliant header from Ishan Pandita. The skipper was always vigilant of the ball and made three important saves throughout the game.
Amarjit Singh Kiyam – 7.0
Naturally a midfielder, Amarjit featured in the right-back role for a second match running. He won four of his five aerial duels and cleared the lines thrice. Singh was always applying pressure and holding his own against the likes of Boris.
Ankit Mukherjee – 7.0
The defender continued manning the backline and registered a massive 11 clearances. Mukherjee made a tackle and an interception.
Adil Khan – 7.0
The formidable centre-back put in another brilliant shift, but his game was cut short due to an injury. He won all of his five duels and registered five clearances, two tackles, and an interception.
Hira Mondal – 8.0
The left-back was yet again brilliant in his defensive duties. He cleared the ball four times, won four of his six ground duels, and was overall solid.
Sourav Das – 6.5
The midfielder produced some brilliant numbers in the middle of the park. He completed two out of three dribbles and stood his ground in the duels.
Lalrinliana Hnamte – 6.0
Going forward, the winger could not create much chances, but helped in the team’s defending. He made three clearances and two interceptions.
Wahengbam Angousana – 6.0
The midfielder was solid defensively as he won five out of his seven duels. One interception and a tackle were also under his belt.
Mohammed Rafique – 6.0
The seasoned player tried his best to improve SC East Bengal’s attack but couldn’t make much difference. Rafique registered three interceptions and three clearances to his name.
Naorem Mahesh Singh – 5.5
Apart from three ground duels and two interceptions, Naorem had a poor game. He lost possession 13 times and was often caught up by the Jamshedpur FC defenders.
Thongkhosiem Haokip – 6.0
A decent performance from the sole striker up front. Semboi had one shot on target throughout the game but had poor passing accuracy (47%).
Darren Sidoel – 6.5
Sidoel played brilliantly as a centre-back as he made eight clearances. He made sure the team remained defensively astute.
Balwant Singh – 5.0
The striker seemed out of his depth often and couldn’t create many chances for the team. He was also culpable for Jamshedpur’s goal as he wasn’t marking Pandita properly.
Jackichand Singh – N/A
Singh was on the pitch for barely two minutes and could not impact the proceedings.