Eelco Schattorie's side were guilty of missing several chances and were left to rue in the end as the home side registered full points...
Mumbai FC held on for a fighting 2-1 win over Prayag United in an I-League encounter at the Balewadi stadium in Pune, on Saturday.
Goals from Gabriel Fernandes and a Bello Rasaq own goal in the 30th and 50th minute respectively, proved decisive. CK Vineeth had momentarily equalized for the away side in the 47th minute.
The hosts were missing the services of Haroon Amiri and played Kamaljeet Kumar in his place. N.D Opara and Yusif Yakubu started upfront.
Prayag United meanwhile gave Kayne Vincent a start upfront, while Sangram Mukherjee started in-between the sticks, once again leaving Subrata Paul on the bench.
The away side started the brighter of the two sides, with Shylo Malswamtulunga testing Luis Barreto with an early effort. The on-loan Dempo SC keeper did well to tip the ball over.
Shylo then put in a testing cross which evaded almost everyone in the box, with Ranti Martins inches away from connecting with the ball.
The virtual siege of the Mumbai FC box continued unabated, as Prayag won several corners at a stretch.
One such corner was only half-cleared by the hosts, and the ball fell kindly for C.K Vineeth, whose first time effort beat Barreto, but came back off the inside of the post and trickled wide of the other post.
Another stray ball fell to Ranti, who cut inside and unleashed a powerful effort which went just wide.
Mumbai FC had their first real opportunity with almost half an hour of play and ND Opara should have put them ahead, after being put clean through by Yusif Yakubu. However Opara dithered and his eventual shot was well saved by Sangram Mukherjee.
The hosts didn’t have to rue that mistake though, as from the corner that followed, the ball was played short to Ashutosh Mehta, who put in a delightful cross for Gabriel Fernandes to head his side ahead in the 30th minute.
The rest of the half was spent almost completely in Mumbai’s half, as Prayag looked for an equalizer. However like has been the case for most of the season, they failed to find a way past defenses which play too deep in their own half.
The referee eventually blew the whistle to bring the half to an end.
Prayag started the second half all guns blazing and equalized in the 47th minute, as Vineeth stuck from inside the box to put his side level.
However the parity lasted only for 3 minutes, as in the 50th minute a good freekick by Nicholas Rodrigues was headed by Bello Rasaq into his own net, leaving Eelco Schattorie stunned in the dug-out.
The hosts then had an indirect free-kick inside the box, due to a foul on Jayesh Rane, however Evans Quao’s effort was saved by one of the players stationed on the line.
Kayne Vincent then had a glorious chance to equalize at the other end after Vineeth found him with a ball across the box. However the New Zealander wasted too much time to control the ball, and the Mumbai defenders snuffed out the chance.
The away side kept pouring forward relentlessly, and somehow failed to get a equalizer in the 75th minute, when Kayne Vincent sent the ball across goal where an onrushing midfielder headed the ball goalwards, but Barreto somehow kept it out. The Goan even recovered in time to claim the ball before Ranti Martins could pounce.
Schattorie was then left with his head in his hands, when Ranti met crisply with a corner, only for Kamaljeet to clear it off the line, and then Kayne Vincent fluffed his lines. One could be forgiven for thinking that it was not going to be Prayag’s day at that moment of time.
While they poured forward to salvage something, it proved to be in vain as Mumbai FC held on for all three points.
With the win, Mumbai FC moved to within two points of Prayag United, who stay fifth with 26 points.
How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.