It was not much of a surprise to see how the Indian Super League (ISL) clash between Chennaiyin FC and Delhi Dynamos panned out on Saturday night.
Though the match produced four goals with Delhi claiming their first win of the season, it was a scrappy affair for most parts. Neither the midfield nor the attack looked in control for both teams and that played its part as a poor match played out.
There were far too many miss-passes, unspotted runs and turnovers of possession for either team to build some rhythm. But in a battle of two misfiring attacks, it was Delhi Dynamos who edged it and much of it had to do with Chennaiyin's lack of solidity.
Curiously, nothing seems to be going right for Chennaiyin FC. They have a very bad habit of conceding goals, even when they have the upper hand in matches.
The midfielders worked hard, the central defenders toiled away and Carlos Salom in attack was full of running to force the issue. But Salom, for all his energy, has zero composure on the ball.
There were a couple of chances early on for Chennaiyin. Raphael Augusto forced a terrific save from Francisco Dorronsorro early on but the first chance Delhi got on the day they scored.
Inigo Calderon went to sleep and allowed Nandhakumar space down the right wing. His cross was adeptly headed in by Daniel Lalhlimpuia who was not picked up by either of the central defenders. That goal was typical of Chennaiyin this season. Out of nowhere, their defence would go to sleep and they would concede goals.
They kept Delhi under pressure for the rest of the half and got a penalty finally when Mohd Sajid Dhot foolishly knocked down Salom inside the box to give away a penalty. In fact, that was the only way John Gregory's team could have scored a goal, given the kind of chances they have wasted.
The second half of the match was downright listless with absolutely no quality on display whatsoever until the 78th minute when Lallianzuala Chhangte was able to break forward and square a ball for Bikramjit Singh. The former Chennaiyin FC man easily slotted it in, sparking wild displays of elation from Josep Gombau and his support staff.
While it signified his relief at having finally getting a win, much of it had to do with the fact that Chennaiyin left a lot of spaces behind them in the search for the equaliser.
The third goal typified the match. Nandhakumar's hopeful shot from outside the area took a huge deflection and nestled in the back of the net.
For now, Chennaiyin occupy the bottom spot going into the break, a steep fall from the lofty position they found themselves in last March. A lot of changes required and fast for Gregory's men. Delhi, on the other hand, are still in the same scenario they were last season despite the win. Perhaps, too much focus is on youth development rather than being competitive.