Jamshedpur FC picked up their first win of the 132nd Durand Cup, courtesy of an Ashley Koli header, defeating Indian Navy Football Team (INFT) 1-0 in a Group B fixture at the Mohun Bagan ground here on Thursday.
Ashley, who was the standout player in the match, scored the match-winning goal of the match in the 70th minute.
As it stands in Group B, Mumbai City are sitting pretty at the top of the group with six points and Jamshedpur now joining Mohammedan Sporting on three points each, the final fixtures in this group will be interesting.
Manager Steven Dias made six changes to his Jamshedpur playing XI that went down 0-5 to Mumbai City FC in their last match. He also changed tactics going in with two wingers up front instead of a 4-3-3 in the game against Mumbai.
Abhilash Nair, the Navy coach, made just one change in replacing his keeper Mohit Singh with Ayush Jena, but eventually the former had to play as the latter hobbled out in the second half after picking up an injury.
It was open end-to-end football from the get-go with Ashley and Sadhu Marandi showing great intent for the Red Miners while the experienced P.M Britto and Pintu Mahata were the main threats for Indian Navy up front.
The first proper chance came the way of Jamshedpur captain S.K. Sahil in the 26th minute of the game. A wonderfully weighted cross from the right flank from Asem Singh turned into a free header for Sahil, but the former Mohun Bagan midfielder could not keep it on target.
In the 35th, Navy wing-back Navjot Singh got hold of a loose ball outside the Jamshedpur half and unleashed a left-footer who had power but lacked direction.
Then in the 40th minute, Pradeesh was adjudged to have brought down the sprightly Ashley inside the box. The resulting penalty was saved by Navy keeper Robinson, who had a good match overall. It was the first penalty save of the tournament and Chawngthu of Jamshedpur was at the receiving end.
Navy ended the first half with 64% possession and could have finished the game with 62%, however, that did not count for much in the end.
The first good chance of the second half also fell to the Red Miners in the 56th minute, when Ashley after one of his dazzling forays down the left, found Asem’s run inside the box, but the diminutive forward inexplicably misdirected a free header from near hand-shaking distance, with Robinson at his mercy.
To Steven Dias’s disbelief, Asem did it again from the same provider about 10 minutes later, albeit the distance from the goal this time was a tad greater. Steven Dias had had enough and promptly replaced him with Laishram Meetei.
The goal came thereafter in the 70th minute and deservedly to Ashley. Chawngthu, who had missed the penalty earlier took the corner and his floater to the far post was put back across towards the six-yard box by Rosangzuala who had come up from defense for the flag kick. Ashely rose to meet the bouncing ball and beat Robinson with his header.
He then had a chance to get a second for himself, but his attempt in the 80th after yet another good run on the left, beat the keeper but landed on the roof of the net.
The referee played seven minutes of added time, but the score-line remained the same and Jamshedpur walked off with a deserving victory.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – IANS)