Goalkeeping errors have been in vogue this season in the Indian Super League (ISL) and on Wednesday evening, almost all the goals scored were partly down to the gaffes by the two custodians.
Vishal Kaith is among the most improved goalkeepers this season. The All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Elite Academy product seems to have benefited from the regular game time under his belt and of course, not to forget the role of former Bengaluru FC and now FC Pune City goalkeeping coach Ali Uzunhasanoglu.
However, Kaith was at fault for the first goal of the evening when he came off his line, got some of the ball but neither could smother nor parry it further. He also took his own defender, namely Sahil Panwar, down and Wellington Priori coolly dispatched the ball into the empty net.
Then it was the turn of the experienced Subrata Paul, who otherwise pulled off a couple of stunning saves. From a corner-kick, Gurtej Singh won the header which bounced and hit the underside of the crossbar before going in. Paul misjudged the flight of the ball completely and didn’t even make an attempt to clear his lines which allowed Pune to come back into the tie.
Emiliano Alfaro, who was going through a dry spell for four matches, combined with Marcelinho with the Uruguayan catching Paul off guard at the near post. Paul was wrong-footed and didn’t anticipate the shot being aimed towards the near post and just haplessly fell to the ground.
Apart from the goalkeeping errors, the match changed its course when Ranko Popovic made a tactical switch in the second half. He rightly substituted the off colour Isaac Vanmalsawma and Jonatan Lucca and brought in Sarthak Golui and Marko Stankovic.
Adil Khan, who was a liability in the full-back role, was moved to central midfield alongside Stankovic and Rohit Kumar while Golui filled in as a right-back.
Stankovic’s all-round game in the middle of the park where he was involved in at least three good goal scoring opportunities changed the game for Pune and he also won all his duels.
Add to that, Steve Coppell had to substitute Trindade Goncalves in the 61st minute given that the Brazilian had only just recovered from an injury. This literally played into Pune’s hands as they began to find spaces, especially in the wide areas. Sameehg Doutie isn’t known for tracking back to help his defence and that allowed more space for Marcelinho.
Jamshedpur did have a good shout for a penalty in the final minute of injury time when Doutie was brought down by Gurtej and Adil. However, referee Santhosh Kumar thought otherwise.
Popovic’s team certainly looked the better of the two teams in the second half but he would certainly hope that they show the same level of performance in the first half too. Meanwhile, Jamshedpur FC lost the plot after the hour mark and whether it was due to tiredness or silly errors at the back, they need to get back to winning ways if they are to make it into the top four.