ATK continued their unbeaten run of four matches as they held NorthEast United to a 0-0 draw at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday evening.
Eelco Schattorie changed both his full-backs from their 1-1 draw against Bengaluru FC. Provat Lakra and Robert Lalthlamuana made way for Reagan Singh and Keegan Pereira. Steve Coppell's lineup saw Everton Santos come in place of El Maimouni Noussair.
The ball was stuck in the middle third of the field for most of the first half and the game's first shot on target arrived only in the 21st minute. Redeem Tlang skipped past Ricky Lallawmawma and unleashed a shot at goal that failed to beat Arindam Bhattacharya who pulled off a save to his left.
Balwant Singh spurned an excellent chance to give ATK the lead at the half-hour mark. Everton Santos' lob over the NorthEast United defence found the Indian striker in plenty of space but his attempted chip from a one-on-one opportunity went straight into the gloves of Pawan Kumar.
Lanzarote struggled to get into the game but a free-kick by the Spaniard on the stroke of half-time caused panic in the box. The delivery fell perfectly for Hitesh Sharma to head in but Keegan Pereira's timely interception kept the scores unchanged.
It seemed as if both sides were looking out for an unforced error to notch a goal. And Gurwinder Singh, in the 49th minute, did exactly that when he gifted the ball to Manuel Lanzarote outside the box. The ATK skipper rushed forward with the ball and shot but Pawan Kumar was up to the task with a routine save.
There were chances at both ends right after the hour-mark. Gurwinder's long pass found Rowllin Borges in acres of space on the right but the midfielder's cross had no takers in the centre of the box. Balwant's give-and-go with Hitesh Sharma at the other end allowed the Indian striker to roam into space inside the box but his cross into the centre was blocked.
Coppell's team brilliantly tied down the league's joint topscorer Bartholomew Ogbeche as the striker was left with no choice but to attempt shots from outside the box. There was drama right at the death when Andre Bikey's header off a corner-kick struck Jose Leudo's hands inside the box but the referee failed to spot the incident and the game ended without goals.