Air India and PIFA Colaba fail to fire in a dull encounter at Cooperage

Air India and PIFA Colaba played out a drab goalless draw in an Elite Division game of the MDFA (Mumbai District Football Association), as both sides failed to bring their best game on what proved to be a dull Sunday afternoon at Cooperage on 11th January 2015.

Air India and PIFA Colaba previously met in this season’s Nadkarni Cup Quarter finals, where Air India’s solitary goal was enough to see them past today’s opponents en-route to the final.

But Air India were key men, with Vijit Shetty, Siddharth Nayak and Omkar Singh away with the Maharashtra team for the Santosh Trophy. But that did not seem to affect Air India as they stormed out as their effort was cleared off the line within seconds of the start.
But the game failed to maintain that intensity as there was a lot of sloppy play in the first fifteen minutes. PIFA’s Roshan Karmaran delivered a devilish cross in the 17th minute, but Air India were able to deal with, but not without giving away a corner.

Both teams were struggling to find their rhythm as the game was getting scrappy with a lot of loose play. PIFA were forced into a change when Roshan Karamaran who was one of their better players so far had to come off with a knee injury and was replaced by Arjun Mehra.

The next five minutes saw a lot of action as Sagar Chile hit a powerful shot at the PIFA goalkeeper after a nicely constructed move. A minute later Alves Ozowara seemed to be through one on one with the keeper and did well to beat him as the linesman raised a late flag for offside. It sparked a controversy, as the PIFA players were displeased with the decision. It was a poor piece of refereeing from the linesman as his indecision may have cost PIFA a goal.

Sagar Chile nearly got on the end of a cross from a free kick on Air India’s left flank in the 30th minute. A minute later, Alves Ozowara broke free and shot at the Air India goal, but his effort was vitally blocked by the Air India defender.

There was another injury, this time to Air India’s Vishnu T. who was replaced by Merwin Stephen in the 32nd minute. A minute later Raynier Fernandes breezed past the PIFA substitute to deliver a cross and the shot from it was tipped over by James Swamy in the PIFA goal.

From the resultant corner, James Swamy made a brilliant save on the line to deny Air India the lead. Air India missed a great chance to take the lead three minutes before the interval as he headed over from six yards from a cross from Air India’s left wing.
The referee drew the half to a close. It was a half with decent amount of chances, but none of the teams had been able to establish a firm hold over the game.

Seven minutes into the second half, Alves Ozowara battled his way past the last Air India defender but his final shot was way too weak as Air India’s Rahul Chadha collected comfortably.
In the 55th minute, Air India’s Baldeep Singh rattled the upright with a fine strike. It was a moment of fortune for the Colaba outfit. Air India made a change bringing on Harold Fernandes in place of Anees K. in the 61st minute as they looked to break the deadlock.

Merwin Stephen nearly headed home from a Sagar Chile cross in the 65th minute after Sagar Chile did well to make space to send a cross.

Air India made their third and final change as they sent Neil Gaekwad in place of Johnychand Singh a minute later. PIFA’s James Swamy made a good save from Merwin Stephen in the 83rd minute as Sagar Chile shot over from the rebound. A big miss from Air India as a good chance went begging.

The referee indicated five minutes of added time as Air India were pressing for a win while PIFA seemed to be content with a point. Air India’s Neil Gaekwad’s shot had the PIFA goal scrambling in the third minute of stoppage time, but the shot when wide much to PIFA’s relief.

Neither team could get on the scoresheet as PIFA held on, for what was to be a good point for them against their illustrious opponents. Both teams never really got going and had to settle for a point in the end.

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