A late penalty from Ryuji Sueoka ensured that Pune FC ( “The Red Lizards”) salvaged a point after Mohun Bagan had opened the scoring through a magnificent Pierre Boya header. This draw in the all important Group B clash of the 2014-15 Federation Cup means that Mohun Bagan (“Mariners”) with two points from two games, currently sit at fourth place, with qualification seeming next to impossible.
Both sides name unchanged squads
Pune F.C’s Moroccan manager Karim Bencherifa stuck to the same starting XI that ripped apart Shillong Lajong 3-1, with Ryuji Sueoka and Eric Brown taking their places at the top of the lineup.
Pune FC XI: Amrinder (GK), Raju, Ralte, Luciano, Matthew, Arata (C), Ganesh, Lalramluaha, Anthony, Eric, Sueoka #MMBvPFC
— Pune Football Club (@PuneFC) January 1, 2015
Sanjoy Sen too kept faith in the same XI for Mohun Bagan as was used for the tie against Bengaluru F.C, with Anwar Ali and Bello Razaq providing solidity at the back and Katsumi Yusa providing the much required pace on the right flank.
Mohun Bagan XI: Shilton (GK) (C), Lalkamal, Katsumi, Denson, Pritam, Balwant, Norde, Anwar, Shouvik G, Bello, Boya #MMBvPFC
— Pune Football Club (@PuneFC) January 1, 2015
Mohun Bagan start strong and dominate First Half
With the fixture being essentially a must win game for the Mariners, Sanjoy Sen implemented his attacking philosophy. The match at the Tilak Maidan however, saw both sides pool their resources into attack.The first 15 minutes of the half saw attacks from both sides fended off by strong defensive performances by the defensive units. However, the match took a turn towards the 15th minute with a stern dominance from the Mohun Bagan midfield. With Lalkamal Bhomwick controlling the midfield and directing passes allover the midfield, Sanjoy Sen’s men began to push the Red Lizards on the back foot.
The relentless Mohun Bagan pressure was backed by Sony Norde who was instrumental in plenty of the attacks. As a result the Pune defensive personnel were caught out on numerous occasions. Despite the many chances created by Mohun Bagan, their marquee striker Pierre Boya initially failed to convert.
Pierre Boya Strikes To Complete A Mohun Bagan Dominated Half
Following 25 minutes of probing and relentless pressure, the Mariners took the lead with 26 minutes on the clock, courtesy of a powerful header from Pierre Boya. Boya’s goal, apart from being the first Mohun Bagan goal in the competition, seemed to be the shot in the arm that Sanjoy Sen’s men needed. The first half finished 1-0 in favor of Mohun Bagan.
As a livid Pune coach, Karim Bencherifa prepared for his half time talk, it was Pune FC that had to make some changes
Thongkhosiem Haokip comes on, signalling attacking intent
Finding his side on the back foot, Bencherifa introduced the attack minded Thongkhosiem Hokip into the mix in place of Anthony D’Souza. The impact of Haokip was instant, as the Red Lizards managed to break the shackles. The change allowed Haitian international Eric Brown to push up and directly attack the Bagan defenders Bello Razaq and Pritam Kotal.
The Mohun Bagan goalkeeper, Shilton Pal was tested perhaps for the first time in the match when Matthew Gonsalves found his shot palmed over the cross bar.
The following ten minutes saw a complete Pune domination, and even Karim Bencherifa on the touchline had a smile back on his face. The Pune pressure paid off, as the Red Lizards were awarded a penalty courtesy of Shouvik Ghosh’s handball off a Eric Brown shot. Shouvik Ghosh also found his name into the book for handling the ball.
Ryuji Sueoka’s calm penalty found its way past Shilton Pal to put Pune back on level terms.
Both sides push for a winner
Unwilling to settle for a draw, an enraged Sanjoy Sen brought on wonderkid Jeje Lalpekhlua in place of Balwant Singh in a bid to create chances for the likes of Pierre Boya and Sony Nodre. However, it was Pune’s halftime substitute Haokip who managed to create the better chances for the Red Lizards. Anticipating that anything but three points for his side would mean a massive uphill task Mohun Bagan brought in C.S Sabeeth in place of Boya.
The final chance came with our minutes left on the clock, with Matthew Gonsalves once again came close to giving Pune F.C all three points, but his effort found itself inches above the the crossbar.
Points were eventually shared at the Tilak Maidan, and Pune F.C once again found themselves at the top of Group B, on points with Bengaluru F.C, with a superior goal difference compared to the latter.
The draw makes qualification for Mohun Bagan all them more difficult, with a 14th title looking all the more impossible for the Mariners. Coach Sanjoy Sen will now be hoping for a positive result when his side face Salgaocar on the 4th of January.
Pune F.C on the other hand will be engaged in a key clash on the 5th of January, against Bengaluru F.C and that will be one interesting match to watch out for !