ATK Mohun Bagan clinched three points with exactly the last kick of the game as they registered a 1-0 win against Odisha FC in the 15th match of the 2020-21 Indian Super League Season at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao, Goa on Thursday.
Just like the last few matches, the game got off to a scrappy start with both sides struggling to maintain possession. However, the pace of the game improved later on with Tiri finding Roy Krishna with a sumptuous long ball.
The chance wasn’t utilized as Krishna’s shot went high and wide. The best chance post that fell to Jacob Tratt for Odisha FC who headed the ball wide after Cole Alexander found him with a fine cross.
In the second half, the better chances went to ATK-MB with them being denied a penalty in the 50th minute. Wing-back Prabir Das was brought down just inside the box by Hendry Antonay. However, the referee Ajit Kumar Meetei only gave a free-kick as Prabir had been taken down outside the box. ATK-MB could have also gone 1-0 ahead as Cole Alexander put the ball into his own net. However, the goal was ruled out as Manvir Singh was adjudged to have handled the ball.
These missed opportunities didn’t hurt ATK-MB as Roy Krishna found the back of the net through a set-piece in the last minute of stoppage time. With that goal, ATK-MB clinched their third consecutive victory while Odisha FC players seemed crestfallen after losing a hard-earned point.
Here are four things we learned from this contest:
Odisha FC defensively more solid than before
In the first two matches, Odisha FC were pretty shaky at the back as their young Indian players made a lot of mistakes. Against a strong ATK Mohun Bagan side, Odisha FC put up their best defensive show this season.
The Odisha FC center-back duo of Jacob Tratt and Steven Taylor headed out any long balls that came their way while Cole Alexander and Gaurav Bora turned out to be a great shield in front of them. They kept the game ticking while limiting the space for ATK-MB to threaten centrally. Even the Brazilian duo of Diego Mauricio and Marcelinho pressed hard to ensure that ATK-MB weren’t given too much time on the ball.
Jacob Tratt’s big first-half miss costs Odisha FC
Not too many chances were created by either side in this game as both teams failed to break each other’s defensive lines on a consistent basis. However, Odisha FC sparkled on a couple of occasions and had the best chance of the game in the first half.
Initially Diego Mauricio made a sensational run after dribbling past Tiri near the by-line on the right flank only to see Sandesh Jhinghan clear his low cross for a corner. However, a minute later, center-back Jacob Tratt missed a glorious opportunity to put Odisha FC in the lead.
Tratt was left in a lot of vacant space but he somehow headed it wide from close range. The opportunity came his way as Carl McHugh didn’t challenge for the ball after looking for an off-side call.
ATK Mohun Bagan clinch it at the death
Stuart Baxter’s Odisha FC worked their socks off to restrict ATK Mohun Bagan until the last minute of stoppage time but they lost their almost well-earned draw through a Roy Krishna goal.
In the first half, ATK-MB were restricted to only a half chance when Tiri’s long ball found Roy Krishna in the box. The Fijian could have made much more of that opportunity but a poor first touch meant that he couldn’t get a good angle to shoot.
After the game re-started in the second half, ATK-MB could have gone in front if not for a slight touch from Manvir Singh’s hand as Odisha FC's Cole Alexander kicked the ball into his own net thereafter.
The referee spotted the infringement from Manvir and ruled out a silly own goal. The game seemed to be drifting towards a goal-less draw but ATK-MB found the back of the net through Krishna himself.
Tiri took a free-kick from the half-way line to Sandesh Jhinghan who then headed it inside for Roy Krishna. The goal-scoring machine Krishna then headed it into the net past Odisha FC custodian Kamaljit Singh who parried it in.
ATK Mohun Bagan follow Antonio Lopez Habas’ tactics to a nicety
Even in the last season, the erstwhile ATK were mostly a counter-attacking team who used the pace of Roy Krishna, David Williams and Edu Garcia to trouble opposing teams. Their main strength was the five-man backline that hardly gives away any chances to opposition forwards.
Even full-backs Prabir Das and Subashish Bose don’t just play as attacking wing-backs and track back often as Antonio Lopez Habas demands such work-rate from his players.
The clever tactician Antonio Habas did lose a key player in the form of Michael Soosairaj to a long-term injury in the season opener but ATK-MB have massive resources to fill in any absence. The return of Carl McHugh after missing the second half of the previous season has also been a huge boost for ATK-MB.
Even in this match, McHugh aced the role of a defensive mid-fielder. Along with Javi Hernandez, McHugh made sure that the troublesome Odisha FC duo of Marcelinho and Diego Mauricio didn’t get the chance to link-up on too many occasions. Antonio Lopez Habas’ substitutions also worked superbly as the likes of Glan Martins, Brad Inman brought in a lot of pace amidst some tired legs.