The fifth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) season is less than a month old but Indian goalkeepers continue their poor run-of-form under the sticks from the previous season. TP Rehenesh (North East United), has already committed a howler against FC Goa while coming out to collect a cross and completely missing it which led to the equaliser by Ferran Corominas.
On Sunday night in Jamshedpur, both Arindam Bhattacharya and Subhashish Roy Chowdhury followed suit as they could have done better in their attempts to stop the ball from trickling into the net.
Pronay Halder made a rash tackle to bring down Sergio Cidoncha just outside the penalty box and the referee did not hesitate to award a free-kick. The Spaniard produced a low free-kick which bounced in front of Bhattacharya before nestling into the net. The keeper was slow to react, misread the bounce of the ball and if he had dived a fraction earlier he might have got a hand to it.
His opposite number was equally guilty if not more as Roy Chowdhury helped Manuel Lanzarote's in-swinging corner into his own net. The fault lies solely on Roy Chowdhury and his lack of judgement as he failed to punch away the corner and instead was taken by surprise by the power and spin on the delivery.
But it was once again clear that Steve Coppell has a lot of work to do with his squad as they were toothless in the opening 45 minutes. In the absence of Kalu Uche, there was no focal point in attack with Balwant not able to sparkle in a lone role up top. As a consequence of Jamshedpur's high-press game, ATK could hardly manage to play out from the back. Hence, when they chose to take the aerial route they lacked someone in the attacking third who could battle with Tiri and win the aerial duels.
The British tactician tweaked a few things during the half-time break and ATK were a much-improved side thereafter. El Maimouni was given the task to closely follow Cidoncha who had run havoc in the first half with his superior ball distribution. ATK also started to win more balls in midfield but had no purpose while they went forward. They could only muster three shots in the entire 90 minutes including Lanzarote's curling flag-kick which got them the equaliser, pointing to their struggles in the attacking third.
Marquee signing Tim Cahill looked out of sorts in his first appearance before the home crowd. He was denied space by ATK's defensive duo of John Johnson and Gerson Viera and the Australian could not pose any threat whatsoever in front of goal. He has a reputation of being good in the air but when a chance was presented in the second half, he failed to guide his header beyond Bhattacharya.
Jamshedpur must also improve their shooting accuracy as even though they had 13 shots only three were on target. With such poor returns at the opposition goalmouth, one cannot expect to bag three points even after dominating possession.
A 1-1 draw was a fair result as neither team deserved to win after being sluggish in the attacking third. ATK have three back to back home matches and Coppell must make sure that his team overturn their poor home record this season and make the best use of the familiar conditions. Another defeat at home could well derail ATK's campaign which would see their chances of finishing in the top-four take a hit.
Whereas, although Cesar Ferrando's Spanish philosophy has been well imbibed by the players the team have looked blunt in the attacking third. Soosairaj troubled Aiborlang Khonjee throughout the match but fell short when it came to delivering the final ball.
They next travel to Guwahati to face league leaders NorthEast United. If they are able to keep their shots on target, they have a good chance of getting the better of the Highlanders as Eelco Schattorie's men have been porous at the back coupled with a goalkeeper who is better known for his errors than his saves.