Derrick Pereira's side failed to register three points against the Goan side as they spurned several goal scoring opportunities...
Pune FC were held to a 0-0 draw by Sporting Clube de Goa in an I-League encounter at the Shiv Chhatrapati Stadium, Pune.
The talking point of the game turned out to be Rovan Pereira’s sending off at the cusp of half-time. James Moga was the guilty party for the hosts, as he missed a flurry of chances.
The Red Lizards gave Zohmingliana Ralte a start in central defense, while James Moga ploughed a lone furrow upfront.
Oscar Bruzon meanwhile handed Bruno Colaco in goal a start while Adil Khan was tasked with the job of dominating the midfield.
Bruno though, didn’t have an auspicious beginning in goal, failing to read a routine long ball into his box, allowing James Moga to nip in. The South Sudanese striker too should have done better, but after rounding the keeper, he somehow missed an open goal.
Douhou Pierre was the next to try his luck, but his drive from outside the box failed to trouble the keeper. When he was called into action by a James Moga free-kick, Bruno cleared his lines unconvincingly.
It was largely a one-way traffic in the early exchanges of the game, with the hosts making most of the forays forward, though Seiya Sugishita was a threat on the counter.
Gurjinder Kumar then had the best opportunity of the half, but he failed to bundle the ball home, virtually from a yard out, after a Douhou free-kick fell kindly in his path.
Douhou then set up Moga after a mazy run with an accurate cross, which the striker should have done better with.
The talking point of the half came when Rovan Pereira was sent off for a second bookable offense, with the referee deeming that the Goan had illegally hauled down Karma Tsewang.
Oscar and his wards surrounded the referee at half-time, protesting against the decision, but to no avail.
Z. Ralte had the first chance of the second half, but he failed to make proper contact with Douhou’s free-kick, and headed wide. The former Mahindra United midfielder himself had an opportunity, but he too failed to hit the target with a header.
Moga yet again failed to trouble the keeper, after he was found by another delightful cross by substitute Khangthang Paite, making it a hat-trick of heading opportunities spurned by the team in quick succession.
Sporting, suffering from being a man down, left Sugishita marooned upfront, with the Japanese forced to feed on scraps. The striker eventually got frustrated at his lack of support, and was substituted in favour of Victorino Fernandes who had a chance to make an almost instant impact, as he evaded the Pune FC defense with a clever run. However his first touch took him too far away from goal, and his ensuing attempt at chipping the keeper was inaccurate and went well off target.
The Red Lizards then missed another chance to go ahead, but this time it was more down to a fantastic save from Bruno, who did brilliantly to deflect away an Arata strike, after the midfielder was set-up by Douhou, with a clever ball across the box.
Moga’s torrid evening looked set to continue, when he failed to connect properly from a cross by Douhou, after a promising exchange between the midfielder and Subash Singh. The ball could have still gone over the line, as Bruno slipped at a vital moment. However thankfully for the custodian, Keita Boubacar was present on the line, to clear the danger.
With ten minutes to go, it looked like the Flaming Oranje would most likely escape with an unlikely point, even though they were suffering from a numerical disadvantage on the field.
Victorino almost stole all 3 points, as he sprinted away from the home side’s defense but was forced wide by Karma, and his eventual shot was straight at Abhra Mondal.
And then right at the death, Moga summed up his evening by failing to hit the target with the goal at his mercy, after doing well initially to evade Keita's tackle.
Eventually, the referee blew the full-time whistle, with the game all square at 0-0. The draw meant that the Red Lizards lost further ground to Churchill Brothers at the top of the table, with the club now being 7 points off the league leaders.
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