Robin Singh rescues frustrated Bengaluru FC against solid Mumbai FC

Robin Singh’s late equalizer salvaged a point for Bengaluru FC who were frustrated by a stern Mumbai FC side in a 1-1 draw in the Hero I-League at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.

The visitors looked destined for all three points when Rahul Bheke gave them the lead on 67 minutes which was cancelled out by Robin Singh in the 88th minute before being sent off for elbowing Chika Wali.

Both teams were not at full strength as Ashley Westwood decided to use his squad making three changes to the side which drew with Royal Wahingdoh as Keegan Pereira, Shankar Sampingiraj and Udanta Singh came into the side with striker Robin Singh dropping to the bench.

Khalid Jamil who faced quite a few injury problems made five changes to the side which got battered by Shillong Lajong. Jayesh Rane, Allan Dias, John Countino and Dane Pereira into the side as Sanjiban Ghosh replaced Nidhin Lal in goal.

The home side started dictating the play from the outset and came very close to scoring when Sunil Chhetri’s drilled shot came off the upright in the 8th minute.

There was a set pattern to the game as Mumbai FC sat back trying to prevent Bengaluru FC from scoring an early goal which they very nearly did when Sean Rooney’s header went straight to Sanjiban Ghosh after he fired Udanta Singh’s cross goal wards from close range in the 19th minute.

Mumbai FC gave away plenty of free kicks to Bengaluru FC in good areas but the hosts couldn’t make them count. They came close when a free kick in the 33rd minute was only partially cleared by Sanjiban Ghosh but the referee blew for a free kick to the visitors before the Bengaluru players could pounce on the loose ball.

Dane Pereira was booked for a challenge on Joshua Walker in the 40th minute and the resultant free kick was passed wide and Mumbai FC failed to deal with the cross from Bengaluru’s right wing to eventually survive a huge scare after a goal mouth scramble.

Mumbai FC who were pegged back into their own half for most of the first half won their first corner in the 44th minute and it nearly sneaked in but for goalkeeper Ralte who punched it away.

Bengaluru FC failed to go into the break with a lead despite dominating majority of the first half. Khalid Jamil’s men looked were drilled and determined to make amends for Friday’s loss.

Mumbai FC started the second half with slightly more adventure but lacked the creative spark to break through a strong Bengaluru FC defence. Sean Rooney saw his effort hit the side netting in the 51st minute four minutes after the striker went into the book for a foul on Mumbai FC’s Dane Pereira.

Rooney went close again when he fired a shot across the face of the goal which was met by Sunil Chhetri on the other side who failed to keep his attempt on target in the 60th minute.

Bengaluru were racking up the chances and Joshua Walker was inches away from giving Bengaluru FC the lead when he fired a fierce shot from the edge of the box agonizingly wide of the left hand side post two minutes later.

Mumbai FC stunned the Kanteerava Stadium as Rahul Bheke headed home a corner to give the visitors a surprise lead, very much against the run of play. It was a poor piece of defending from the Champions as they allowed Bheke a free header from six yards out which he made no mistake in dispatching.

Ashley Westwood who was facing a second defeat at home,reacted by making all three changes around the 72nd minute as Lalchuanmawia, Robin Singh and Beikhokhei Beingaichho replaced Keegan Pereira, Udanta Singh and Eugensen Lyngdoh respectively.
Mumbai FC continued to resist the Bengaluru FC pressure as the home side began to lose their cool. Seeing their title challenge crumble, Bengaluru FC tried too hard to force the issue but did not find any joy.

Mumbai brought on Taisuke Matsugae and Amoes in the dying minutes replacing Josimar and John Coutinho.
Just as the points seemed to have slipped away from the Champions’ reach, Robin Singh popped up to fire the equalizer from a scuffed corner two minutes from time and break Mumbai FC hearts.

The crowd who were clearly frustrated started throwing bottles at the Mumbai FC goal as the game headed into five stoppage time minutes.

Robin Singh who completely lost his head was sent off for elbowing Chika Wali on the edge of the box in the second minute of stoppage time.

Mumbai FC held on for a famous point in the Champion’s Den which left Bengaluru FC two points adrift of leaders Mohun Bagan having played three games more.

Mumbai FC remained seventh after failing to get over the line at the Kanteerava, but did well to frustrate Bengaluru FC and earn a precious point especially after Friday’s mauling.

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