The southern side failed to win their final home game of the season which could come to hurt their title chances...
Bengaluru FC were held to a 1-1 draw by Pune FC at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Friday evening in a round 23 I-League encounter. Thoi Singh had put the home side ahead in the 25th minute which was cancelled out by Anthony D’Souza in the second half to split the points.Ashley Westwood made as many as four changes from the defeat to Shillong Lajong last weekend with Sorem Anganba, Keegan Pereira, Robin Singh and Gurtej Singh being handed a start. Curtis Osano and Pawan Kumar were missing due to suspension.
With Anas Edathodika being ineligible due to accumulation of four yellow cards and Amrinder Singh being sent off in the last game, Pune FC handed a start to Arup Debnath and Calum Angus. Mumtaz Akhtar was preferred in the midfield over Dhanpal Ganesh.
The game started off on a bright note as both teams looked to grab the early initiative. The first clear chance of the game came in the fifth minute from a short Pune FC corner which was cleared by Sean Rooney. Thoi Singh latched on to the ball and almost got clear of the defense. However, the Pune defense scrambled back to clear the danger.
At the other end, Mustapha Riga's shot from the edge of the box in the 18th minute just went past the post.
The deadlock was broken in the 25th minute by Thoi Singh. Rooney did well to beat Zohmingliana Ralte down the right flank and whipped in a dangerous cross into the box. Sunil Chhetri's shot hit the post, but Thoi was there to bundle the ball into the back of the net to open the scoring.
The away team almost equalised in the 38th minute as a Mirjan Pavlovic header from a Calum Angus corner came off the woodwork.
Thoi Singh had another great chance in the 39th minute as he was almost clear of the Pune defense. But his shot was a tame one much to the disappointment of the home fans.
Play was restricted to the middle of the park as neither side could dictate the proceedings. Pune FC found the equalizer eventually in the 73rdminute as their substitutes Othallo Tabia and Anthony D’Souza combined with the latter heading in the former’s cross.
Thongkhosiem Haokip’s introduction added more teeth to Pune’s attack. He found himself inside the box, cut inside but his tame shot was easily collected by Sorem Anganba.
There were calls for a penalty by Pune FC which fell on deaf ears of the referee when Riga’s shot came off Gurtej Singh’s hand.
It was Anganba who came to Bengaluru’s rescue when Pavlovic twisted and turned Menyongar to whip in a cross for Haokip whose header was cleared on second attempt by Anganba in the 83rd minute.
In the very next move, Chhetri managed to get a shot which saw Debnath spill it. Menyongar was at hand to latch on to it and chip only to see his effort go straight into the hands of the Pune goalkeeper.
Pune had another chance to win three points as Gabriel Fernandes found Pavlovic on the edge of the box whose shot was just about kept out by Anganba.
Chhetri alleged that he was brought down inside the box by Tabia in the injury time but the referee wasn’t interested.
With this draw, Bengaluru FC have 38 points from 21 matches while Pune FC are on 31 points from 20 games.
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