Madan Maharaj FC (MMFC) notched up their first win in the 2021 Hero I-League Qualifiers with a 1-0 victory over Ryntih SC on Monday (October 11).
Both sides entered the match on the back of entertaining previous games. Ryntih SC lost 3-2 in a thriller against Rajasthan FC while Madan Maharaj played out an exciting 3-3 draw against Bengaluru United that saw both teams score in injury time.
Ryntih, unaffected by previous results, began the match on the front foot. Franky Kharsati's men held the ball well, and were good at moving it forward, But they struggled to cause any trouble for the MMFC defence or their goalkeeper Shayan Roy.
Sheen Sokhtung came close for Ryntih SC in the first quarter, but could not direct his effort on target. They received another chance a few minutes later, but Chesterpoul Lyngdah's effort was straight at Roy in the Madan Maharaj goal.
Those were the standout goalmouth moments in a relatively dull half as the match remained goalless at the break. Both teams enjoyed almost the same amount of possession in the first half, but neither defence really needed to be on their toes.
Madan Maharaj take the game to Ryntih in second half
After the break, Madan Maharaj came out more determined to make a statement against Ryntih. However, they were limited to efforts from distance, as their attacking moves lacked poise in the final moments. Ryntih's defence held the fort, but looked more comfortable than expected.
The likes of Shubham Bhoumik and Mehtab Hossain, who were excellent in MMFC's draw against Bengaluru United (FCBU), were largely anonymous in this fixture. Meanwhile, their defence comprising Lijo Francis, Loveday Enyinnaya and Abhishek Das, who impressed for large parts of the match against FCBU, looked solid here as well.
It was Enyinnaya who had the final laugh. In a match bereft of quality opportunities, Madan Maharaj winger Abinash Ruidas sent in a fabulous aerial ball from a set-piece in the 88th minute. Enyinnaya leaped highest to head the ball, and guided it into the top corner past the helpless Ryntih custodian.
The score read 1-0 with two minutes and injury time still to play. A tired Ryntih side couldn't muster the energy to muster a response ultimately allowing Madan Maharaj to secure a key victory.
Amit Jaiswal's MMFC side are now level on points with leaders Rajasthan FC in Group A of the 2021 Hero I-League Qualifiers. Both teams have four points apiece and the same goal difference (+1) as well ahead of their clash on Wednesday (October 13).
Ryntih SC, on the other hand, continue to languish at the bottom of the table with just a point from two matches played. They will next face FC Bengaluru United in their next Group A fixture on Wednesday.