The 0-0 stalemate at the Balewadi Sports Complex is a mere understatement to the performance put up by both sides, as new entrants Bharat F.C held the mighty Dempo to show that they are in the I League to stay.
Both Sides Name Strong XI’s
In his first ever I League game as manager, Stuart Watkiss of Bharat FC named perhaps his strongest lineup on paper. Arindam Bhattacharya was deloyed between the sticks, with Gouramangi Singh, Bobby Hassel and Kris Bright all making their debut for the new I League outfit.
An injury to Tolgay Ozbey meant that Arthur Papas had to persist with Holicharan Nazary at the apex of the Dempo attack. Costa Rica international Carlos Hernandez too made his first appearance for the club, playing as a central attacking midfielder.
Bharat FC Find Their Feet
Unwilling to be overwhelmed by the might of their opposition, Stuart Watkiss’ men succeeded in not only holding Dempo at bay, but also to find their feet. Therefore, the first twenty odd minutes were spent knocking the ball around and trying to get a good rhythm going. Incidentally, the first corner of the half was won by the home side after half an hour of probing and patient passing from both sides. Eventually the first half concluded with both sides having a chance apiece and unable to break the stalemate.
Both Sides Begin Creating Chances
Barely a minute into the second half, Kris Bright attempt to create a chance for Subhash Singh, signaling a stern attacking intent for the home side. The Dempo defence were kept on alert, as barely a few minutes later, yet another attack by Sabas Saleel was dealt with. Both defensive units remained strong, thus maintaining a balance on proceedings.
With twenty minutes of the match remaining and Arthur Papas and his side sensing an opening on the horizon, Carlos Hernandez found his effort from five yards out saved by the capable Arindam Bhattacharya. The gritty custodian who would go on to become the man of the match, put in a couple of more decisive and important saves to ensure that his side came away from the game with at least a point.
Stuart Watkiss will indeed be extremely pleased with his side’s performance. The direct entrant put on a solid display at the Balewadi Sports Complex to hold strong title contenders , Dempo thereby securing their first ever point in the I League. Manager Stuart Watkiss and his band of merry men will not get to celebrate the point too long as they face current leaders Royal Wahingdoh F.C the following week at home.
Two points from their first two games is definitely not what the doctor ordered for Arthur Papas and Dempo. However, the Australian manager will take solace in the fact that his side have not conceded a single goal in the League as yet, and have secured two valuable points in both their away fixtures thus far. Papas will be hoping that his attacking unit get their act together, since they have yet to score a goal in the League this season. The return of Tolgay Ozbey for their next game at home to Sporting Clube de Goa will be key.