Jamshedpur, December 9, 2019: Chennaiyin FC were held to a 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur FC in a Hero Indian Super League encounter at the JRD Tata Sports Complex here on Monday. In what was Owen Coyle’s first game in charge, Nerijus Valskis scored his fourth goal in three games to give CFC a first-half lead. Chennaiyin dominated majority of the game but failed to kill it off as JFC equalized through Isaac Vanmalsawma in the 89th minute with a shot that deflected in off Farukh Choudhary’s hand.
Despite the frustrating end to the game, Chennaiyin managed to put some unwarranted records to rest. The draw saw CFC put an end to a seven-game losing run on the road in the ISL, and also register their first away goal this season. The Marina Machans are back in action two days later in another action-packed clash against NorthEast United in Guwahati.
Coyle named an unchanged starting lineup from the team that drew 2-2 with Odisha FC in their previous outing as Andre Schembri returned to the bench. As for Jamshedpur, Antonio Iriondo made two changes as Mobashir Rahman and Sumeet Passi replaced Jitendra Singh and the injured Sergio Castel.
After a stop-start opening few minutes, Chennaiyin grew into the game with winger Lallianzuala Chhangte looking lively on the left flank. Anirudh Thapa and Rafael Crivellaro controlled the midfield well with Masih Saighani providing cover behind them.
And CFC deservedly scored the opener on 26 minutes through Lithuanian marksman Valskis. It all began with Thapa spreading play to the right for Thoi. He played it short for Valskis who in turn found Rafael at the edge of the box. The latter made a quick turn before playing a delightful through ball for Valskis, who took a touch before firing it low past Subrata Paul, in off the far post.
For JFC, Farukh was the outlet on the right wing, keeping Tondonba Singh and Lucian Goian busy. CFC defended their set-pieces well and continued to look menacing at the other end. Ten minutes before the break, the hosts were forced into a change as Noe Acosta was replaced by Jitendra after suffering a shoulder injury.
Chhangte had a chance to double the lead on the stroke of half time, found well by Valskis at the edge of the box. But his shot was straight at the keeper.
JFC looked more of a threat after the break, bringing on former CFC man Isaac Vanmalsawma on the hour mark. But a few minutes later the visitors had a big chance to make it 2-0 on the break. Rafael freed Chhangte in a 2v1 situation, the latter beating the last defender but going slightly wide of goal. A bit off-balance, he still managed to get a shot away which again was straight at Paul.
Vishal Kaith was alert in the CFC goal, making a couple of decent saves from Isaac. Coyle then made his first change on 71 minutes as Germanpreet Singh came on for Saighani. Schembri too was thrown on soon after for Thoi.
Another huge opportunity went begging for Chennaiyin when Chhangte was again wasteful with his delivery. Beating the offside trap with a Rafael dummy, all Chhangte was left with was finding Schembri free in front of an empty net. But he hurriedly overhit his pass and the chance was gone.
The visitors paid for their profligacy in the closing stages albeit in controversial circumstances. After some quick feet from Aniket Jadhav, Passi found Isaac inside the box. He took a touch and shot at goal, only for it to deflect in off Farukh’s hand, totally wrong-footing Vishal. Lucian and co. appealed fervently to the referee but to no avail.
Buoyed by the equalizer, Jamshedpur finished strongly in search of the winner but CFC held firm at the back as it ended 1-1.