The Red Lizards failed to capitalise on Bengaluru FC and Sporting Clube de Goa dropping points to reach the summit...Pune FC missed several chances as they were held to a goalless draw by arch-rivals Mumbai FC in an I-League Round-19 encounter at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi, Pune on Saturday.
The season’s second Maha-Derby was once again marred by numerous time wasting tactics employed by hosts Mumbai FC. Pune FC however, created the best chances of the match, but failed to kill off their opponents.
The draw also meant Pune FC wasted the opportunity to go top of the table with their closest rivals dropping points and now stay second with 29 points behind Bengaluru FC (31 pts).
The game was a physical battle between the two sides with several players being booked throughout the ninety minutes.
Coach Mike Snoei made one change to the team handing a start to medio Fanai Lalrempuia in place of the injured Riga Mustapha as new-signing Mirjan Pavlovic started on the bench.
After a hard fought opening quarter, Pune FC went close in the 15th minute. Playmaker Douhou Pierre found Gabriel Fernandes down the middle with a through ball. The winger turned and created space, but saw his grounder go wide.
Minutes later, Gabriel once again went close but his powerful attempt went inches wide at the first post on the right.
At the other end, Mohammed Rafi capitalised on a poor clearance by Pune FC custodian Amrinder Singh and volleyed from 25-yards out. However, Amrinder made up for the initial mistake with a brilliant save palming the ball over.
Eight minutes later, Amrinder was once again in action blocking defender Ebi Sukore’s attempt from the left at the first post.
At the other end, Pune FC went close when winger Anthony D’Souza controlled right-back Srikanth Ramu’s cross into the box. However, the winger’s attempt was blocked inside the six-yard box.
Despite various attempts, both sides failed to take the lead as the half ended goalless.
The second half was a similar story as Pune FC continued to push ahead but Mumbai FC preferred to defend deep.
Two minutes in, Anthony went on a brilliant solo down the left before cutting back for striker Thongkhosiem Haokip whose attempt on the run went wide.
Thereafter, the hosts started hosts started employing time wasting tactics disappointing the fans at the stadium. Mumbai FC defender Khelemba Meitei was even booked while being substituted for wasting a lot of time as he stopped on the ground to remove his shin pads.
Ten minutes into the half, Pune FC created the best chance of the match. Defender Salam Ranjan Singh’s header off Calum Angus’ corner kick from the right was cleared off the line. The rebound fell for medio Dhanpal Ganesh inside the box, but his effort agonisingly came off the woodwork.
Couple minutes after the hour mark, Coach Mike Snoei brought in striker Pavlovic in place of Haokip as Pune FC continued to push for a goal.
However, the hosts played the remainder of the game hoping for a draw with a lot of playacting leaving the Pune FC Coach fuming. Medio Ahmad Hatifie particularly went down numerous times in the final quarter of the game.
Pune FC desperately tried pushing up for a goal but the game remained goalless.
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