ISL 2019-20: Chennaiyin's John Gregory pleased with clean sheet after draw against Mumbai
Chennaiyin FC looked a renewed side in their clash against Mumbai City FC on Sunday in the Indian Super League. Playing in their first home game, the Marina Machans started like a house on fire but created a host of chances throughout the game. However, they lacked the sharpness in front of goal and that profligacy meant they could only get point as the game ended 0-0.
The first 20 minutes of the game belonged to Chennaiyin as Mumbai had to hang on for dear life. Inside just 40 seconds, Chennaiyin forced a double save from Mumbai City goalkeeper Amrinder Singh to keep out Dragos Firtulescu and Rafael Crivellaro.
In the 13th minute, Amrinder was called upon again as he beat back a shot from Lallianzuala Chhangte. Crivellaro was left with an easy conversion when the rebound fell to him but he couldn't capitalise.
Another chance fell to the Brazilian Crivellaro soon after with his attempted lob over Amrinder going over the bar. The home side created more chances in the second half with substitute Nerijus Valskis going the closest in the second period.
Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory was left pondering a case of 'what ifs' as he reflected on what was a good chance for his team to pick up their first win.
"After about 20 minutes in the first half, where we dominated, we faded away. I was frustrated that we did not score 3 goals at least (in the 1st half). They couldn’t get the ball off us in the first 20 minutes. We were very frustrated we were not ahead comfortably. We stopped doing the good things we had done well after that".
He also expressed his relief at Mumbai's failure to take their own chances which could have proved costly for his side.
"Mumbai have done this to a lot of teams on the road where they sit back and suddenly hit on the counter. They did it last season and look they'll be doing it again this season. So once they got back in the game a bit, we were happy to get to half-time level".
The Englishman said he felt his side would eventually get the decisive goal in the second half, but it was not to be.
"In the second half, I thought it was a matter of time before we scored. But Amrinder made a good save. Nerka (Valskis) had a god chance. I certainly feel very proud of the way we did our job."
He mentioned that some of his players were still struggling with match fitness, something which he hoped they would get sorted out in the coming days.
"We lacked a bit of match fitness. Masih and Rafael joined us very late and they were not up to the speed we wanted them to be. I was very happy with the performance though. Dhanpal has been out for 12 months and I think the fitness was beginning to show on him in the end but he battled it out."
Gregory also conceded the chances afforded to Mumbai City, but was left happy with the clean sheet at the end.
"From a defensive point of view, we messed up a couple of times. But in the second half, we improved. We kept a clean sheet which is always impressive. A coach always likes a clean sheet. We can build on tonight’s performance I think".
The coach believes he has some good versatility in his squad at the moment which he thinks will be important with games coming thick and fast.
"Rafa (Crivellaro) didn’t start last week. Thapa did not start. We had a different formation in Goa. We changed it tonight and I thought it was very good. You always look for the best XIs. I brought on Valskis for Schembri tonight and he got a good couple of chances. Versatility is a nice thing to have."
Chennaiyin play the only other side to win the ISL title more than once, ATK at home on Wednesday in their next game.