Indian Super League: FC Goa weather early storm to salvage point against ATKJanuary 4, 2018
FC Goa had trouble taking off but in the first Indian Super League (ISL) match that began in one day and ended in the next, it was ATK who hit an air pocket. One the defending champions are struggling to come out of even after seven games.
The 1-1 draw — Robbie Keane’s fourth minute goal being neutralised in the 24th by ISL’s top scorer Ferran Corominas, who got his ninth – means ATK are on nine points, four adrift of the top four going into an away games against Bengaluru FC, Northeast United, FC Pune City. FC Goa move to 13.
Shifting Ryan Taylor to right-back seemed an acknowledgment of FC Goa’s superiority with Brandon Fernandes and Manuel Lanzarote looking to find Corominas with help from Eduardo Bedia who tarnished a good shift with a booking.
ATK’s right-back Prabir Das couldn’t handle all this and coach Teddy Sheringham had to sacrifice attacking options Taylor’s passes from the midfield could create for defensive solidity.
“We felt in the last 15 minutes of the first half we were getting overrun. Goa had got on top of us during that period and we needed to change it…,” said Sheringham.
Taylor can play in more than one position and is also ATK’s go-to man for set-pieces. It was from his free-kick that Keane bounce headed the hosts ahead.
With FC Goa having warmed-up with kits in transit from the airport, it was exactly the start ATK would have wanted. But the visitors absorbed the blow, survived Keane coming close again, tackled hard and with goalies at both end having a busy night, the draw seemed a fair result.
Had Mandar Rao Desai managed more power into a 73rdminute stab off a Corominas pass, essayed after the former Espanyol player scythed through the left of ATK’s backline, FC Goa could even have flown away with full points.
Corominas had equalised by rounding off Debjit Majumder and beating Asutosh Mehta after being found by Lanzarote from a goalkick. The ball rolled towards Lanzarote because referee R Srikrishna applied the advantage rule when Bruno Pinheiro collided with an ATK player.
“At the time, I thought it was good refereeing though my staff thought it was a foul,” said Sheringham.
Anwar Ali’s hamstring problem forced ATK into an early substitution and they started the second half by replacing Das with Rupert Nongrum slotted in the midfield for Taylor. When ATK were making their last substitution, in the 85th minute, getting in Njazi Kuqi to try and finish the game, FC Goa were making their first change.
Given that the match started 2 hours and 45 minutes behind schedule, both teams struggled for rhythm and a lot of jostling and arguing meant Srikrishna’s whistle kept piercing the night. Continuous shifting of kick-off times meant it was a rough day for ATK as well, said their coach.
Sheringham said he was ‘kind of pleased with the point’ but barring Keane’s growing influence, ATK couldn’t really make one on the night. And time’s running out.