United were reduced to ten men late in the game but their hosts weren't able to make the most of the numerical advantage as the two sides ended with a share of the spoils.Mohammedan Sporting could only manage a 0-0 draw against a ten-man United Sports Club in an I-League sixth round fixture at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday evening.
Though Mohammedan had signed five players on loan from IMG-Reliance a few days ago, none of them were in the starting line-up but Manish Maithani and Luis Barreto did make the bench. After a long injury break starting from the Durand Cup final, Luciano Sobrosa finally made his I-League debut for the century-old Kolkata club.
For the Purple Brigade, Shouvick Chakraborty started as the U-23 player for the side while Eric Brown was the lynchpin in midfield. Baldeep Singh earned his first start of the I-League season as Mohammed Rafique was once again unavailable for the match. Ranti Martins was the main striker while C.K.Vineeth was also given license to go forward at will.
The game started at a high tempo with Mohammedan enjoying possession early on. The Black and Whites had a good penalty appeal turned down in the 8th minute as Bello Rasaq had allegedly handled the ball inside the area.
In the very next minute, Rasaq made a brilliant challenge in the box to dispossess Penn Orji, who would have only had the goalkeeper to beat had the Nigerian defender failed to stop him.
Mohammedan managed to penetrate the United box once again in the 11th minute when Tolgay Ozbey was given the ball at the edge of the box with space around him. However, the Australian's hesitance to take the shot cost him as his weak effort hit one of his teammates and went out for a goal-kick.
A number of half-chances followed with Jerry Zirsangha attempting a bicycle-kick but his powerful shot went over the bar. United created their first opening of the game in the 16th minute when Deepak Mondal bombed down the right flank and unleashed a shot that forced in-form keeper Ashok Singh into action.
Tolgay went on a good solo run in the 19th minute but his shot was saved well by the experienced Sangram Mukherjee. Though the striker was able to pull the trigger, it should also be noted that playing a pass to the onrushing Josimar Da Silva may have been the better option. Shouvick Chakraborty then had a good effort from inside the box which left the custodian wrong-footed but the shot went a few inches wide of the far post.
In the very next minute, Mohammedan had a controversial decision ruled against them. Josimar ran down the middle and lobbed his finish over Sangram who had come off his line. However, the linesman disallowed the goal, citing a foul by Josimar on Rasaq as the reason.
In the second half, United seemed to dominate midfield with Shouvik running the show. A great chance came their way 10 minutes after the restart when Ranti was one-on-one with Ashok Singh but the prolific goal-scorer was a bit slow on the ball and the chance was wasted.
The best shot of the match came in the 57th minute when Eric Brown's sublime effort was met by an exquisite save as Ashok Singh managed to get his finger-tips to the ball which saw it rattle off the crossbar rather than nestle into the back of the net.
Tolgay wasn't his usual dynamic self as he chose not to pass the ball to Josimar once again when another opportunity presented itself despite the fact that his teammate was in a much better position and as a result, the chance went begging.
United were soon down to ten men as Rasaq went into the referee’s book for the second time in the match after a challenge on Josimar. Mohammedan however, failed to make use of their numerical advantage as their link-up in the middle of the pitch never got going.
The game still saw another bit of action as Penn Orji went on one of his weaving runs forward and got the better of Sukhen Day to test Sangram. Though the ball fell to Josimar on the rebound, the striker's tame effort was cleared off the line by Dhanchandra Singh.
In the 90th minute though, Ranti Martins nearly stole all three points for his side when he took a great shot from 30 yards out but his effort missed the target by a few inches. The final whistle blew with the score at 0-0. The result is United's third draw on the trot while the hosts earned only their 4th point of the season.
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