FC Goa brought in Victor Rodriguez on the hour and the substitution saw a change in game plan, attacks culminating from the centre instead of the flanks, and after two efforts – one a header and another a shot – the Fatorda stadium erupted in joy as his third attempt ended as the only goal in an otherwise drab evening.
Football was played in drips in the first game at the Nehru stadium in Fatorda, and after the break, with both teams trying to break each other’s defence by employing the through ball and failing.
FC Goa clearly dominated right through the 90 minutes but their domination lacked creativity and the spectators had to make do with mediocrity. The winners had earlier come closest to scoring in the 21st minute when Rowllin Borges’ shot crashed the side bar and rebounded into play with no FC Goa player able to capitalise.
Apart from the goal, this was the second best move of the evening. Jamshedpur FC had another breather in the closing minutes of the first half when Laldinpuia made a goal line clearance to deny Noah Sadaoui a whiff of goal. As usual, FC Goa threw all its egg in Noah’s basket and it proved porous at times.
Arshdeep Singh was on an extended break with the Jamshedpur FC players unable to take the ball close to him. They did so once, when he appeared to be beaten but the linesman’s version to the referee switched the score line back in favour of FC Goa.
FC Goa tried to strike iron when it was hot through the flanks but goalkeeper Vishal Yadav showed his steel under the horizontal as the FC Goa strikes were either half-hearted or lacked teeth.
If the first half lacked gumption, the second was a repeat, with the exception of the only goal in the 81st minute. Victor from the centre crossed to Noah on the right flank and darted to the centre of the goal to head in the cross. That was it.
The goal unsettled the visitors but by then, there was little they could do in terms of creative football. In the 85th minute, it appeared they had equalised but after consulting the linesman, referee Kundu changed his mind.
Both teams made a flurry of changes with FC Goa bringing in Saviour Gama in place of Brandon Fernandes but that change and the rest did not make any difference because Jamshedpur FC never, during the 90 minutes, showed any intent to win.
Sandesh Jhingan and Odei Zabala were rock steady in defence and that should have given Seriton Fernandes and Jay Gupta the freedom to express themselves upfront through the flanks.
Rowllin, Brandon and Noah covered space like a pack and much of the midfield maneuvering was left to Carl Mchugh who switched on and off. FC Goa’s emphasis to find Noah throughout made the game predictable.
FC Goa now hosts Kerala Blasters in a crucial game that will determine which of the two teams break free on top of the table as both share equal points now.