Goalless at the Balewadi Sports Complex...
Pune FC continued their recent impressive run as they held Mahindra United to a 0-0 draw at the Balewadi Sports Complex on Wednesday. The Reds had won their previous four games, but found it tough to overcome a quality Mahindra side. Pune's Shanmugam Venkatesh became the first player to appear in 200 national league games in the match, but had to go off due to injury. Mahindra defender Lamine Tamba was named Man of the Match.
The hosts, who have been on an unbelievable run of late in the league, winning their last four games, had an off day against the Mumbaikars, who were dominant through most of the match.
The first half saw the visitors dominate entirely, as Pune suffered a big blow when Shanmugam Venkatesh, who became the first player to appear in 200 national league games, hobbled off with a hip injury inside ten minutes.
Pune subsequently lost the midfield battle, resulting in Mahindra seeing most of the ball, and carving out chances. Mohammed Rafi came close with his effort, but Subrata Paul pulled of a fine save, one of two or three good saves he made in the half.
The big talking point was shortly after Rafi's shot, when Steven Dias' strike was handled inside the box by Selwyn Fernandes. It was a strong shout for a penalty, but the referee waved play on, infuriating Mahindra coach David Booth, who later complained about the official's performance.
Derrick Pereira tweaked his midfield and defence in the second period and adopted a slightly more defensive approach, which limited Mahindra's chances, while Pune were content to play on the counter, which they did well on a few occasions, although the Mahindra backline was led well by Lamine Tamba, who was named Man of the Match.
However, neither side could create any clear cut opportunities in the second half, as Pune held on for a point gained, while Mahindra had to settle for two points dropped.
The crowd were in full voice at the Balewadi Sports Complex, as Pune ended the second phase of their league campaign with four wins and a draw.
Mahindra ended the game disappointed, as they probably deserved more, and have to settle for third place in the league, behind Dempo and Chirag United.