Eugenson Lyngdoh’s second half strike earned defending I League Champions Bengaluru F.C their first win at home on Sunday. The 1-0 victory over Bharat F.C saw the Blues pick up three points and move up the table to sixth position with a total of seven points. A long journey beckons, but the Bengaluru team have started the upward trek. And Abhijit Raghunathan from Sports Rediscovered plans to be there for this trek. He was at the stadium on Sunday and here is his match report.
Sean Rooney left Out
Sean Rooney, who had played a crucial role in Bengaluru’s 4 goal win against Royal Wahingdoh was left out despite Manager Ashley Westwood reaffirming that there were no injuries in the squad. Indian International striker Robin Singh took his place at the helm of the Bengaluru F.C attack. Despite his fatal head injury against Johor F.C, John Johnson found his place at the heart of defence alongside Curtis Osano.
Stuart Watkiss and his Bharat FC unit stuck to the strong squad they have fielded all season. Arindam Bhattacharya took his place between the goalposts as Bobby Hassell and Kris Bright found themselves on the attacking front. Newly joined Rahim Nabi also made his debut for Bharat F.C.
A feisty encounter was on the cards as the defending champion side locked horns with a relatively new club at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.
Stalemate At End Of First Half
With the fans’ armada chanting away in favor of the Blues, the first half saw nothing more than a couple of chances created by each side. Eugenesene Lyngdoh and Sunil Chhetri posed all kinds of threats but failed to yield a goal. The highlight of the first half perhaps was the yellow card on the half hour mark for Bobby Hassell for a rash challenge on Sunil Chhetri.
The first half therefore ended with the iconic Kanteerava scoreboard reading 0-0 and the home fans a tad worried.
Bengaluru F.C Raise the Tempo
The second half saw both sides rejuvenated and ready for action. With neither team ready to give up on the three points, the game became increasingly stretched. In contrast to the first half, the second half saw both keepers in action. With the raised tempo, the Bengaluru faithfuls raised their voice as well. Chants of “Oh When the Blues go marching in” engulfed the Kanteerava, perhaps inducing more direct and attacking play from the home side.
Eugeneson Lyngdoh breaks the deadlock
Ashley Westwood brought on C.K Vineeth for Beikho Beingaichho at the hour mark. The move signaled his intent of stepping up the attack. As Westwood tweaked his formation, Watkiss too plotted in the same manner by bringing on veteran Steven Dias and Vignesh Gunashekar. The positive substitutions had a direct impact on the game.
A few minutes prior to scoring, Eugeneson Lyngdoh had found himself in a one-on-one situation with Arindam Bhattacharya as the lanky midfielder found his header tipped over by the Bharat F.C custodian. However Eugeneson Lyngdoh had another opportunity to make amends. He scored with a delicate chip over Arindam in the 78th minute. It was the Bengaluru midfielder’s fourth goal of the season.
Eugeneson Lyngdoh had also scored in Bengaluru F.C’s last match, the AFC Champions Cup qualifying match against Johor F.C.
Bharat FC try valiantly for an equalizer
With barely ten minutes remaining, Stuart Watkiss and his Bharat F.C side pooled all of their resources in attack. However, the many waves of attacks failed to bear fruit as the Blues picked up all three points with a slender 1-0 win.
The 1-0 win will certainly be a major confidence boost for the Blues. However, as they crawl up the I League table, there are still major issues that need to be addressed by Ashley Westwood and the coaching staff. Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s run of good form should relieve some pressure off Westwood. The Blues will face Shillong Lajong in their next I League encounter.
As for Bhartat FC , despite losing, Stuart Watkiss can find solace in the fact that his side did not leave Bengaluru without a fight. The Englishman will be hoping for a turn in his side’s fortunes as they look to avoid a relegation battle.