I-League: TRAU hold Chennai City FC to a goal-less draw
The result helped TRAU maintain a one-point lead over defending champions Chennai City in a tightly packed I-League table.
Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) FC played out an entertaining goalless draw (0-0) with defending Hero I-League Champions Chennai City FC at the Khuman Lumpak Stadium on Sunday.
TRAU goalkeeper Shayan Roy was magnificent on the day to deny the visitors all three points.
The TRAU line-up sported wholesale changes. Besides Shayan who replaced Mithun Samanta in goal, Sandeep Singh returned to the backline following his suspension. Shahabaaz Khan also started in defense, with Netrajit Singh and Loken Meitei getting the nod in midfield.
Chennai head coach Akbar Nawas made just a couple of changes, with Shem Marton Eugene and Jan Muzangu making way for Sriram B and Varun Mathur.
The first half was entertaining as either side created goal-scoring opportunities but were left to rue their conversions. Chennai took a cautious stance for the half, which prompted the hosts to press hard and recover possession, which they executed quite well.
TRAU earned a penalty in the 13th minute when Ajith Kumar was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the 18-yard box. Skipper Princewill Emeka stepped up for the spot-kick but his effort rattled the woodwork, thus squandering a glorious opportunity.
In the 33rd minute, Netrajit Singh latched onto a headed clearance by Roberto Eslava and volleyed one towards goal but to his agony, it fizzled just past the post.
Coach Nawas, seemingly not happy with how the game was panning out for his side, made two early substitutions in the first-half, bringing on Pravitto Raju and Jishnu Balakrishnan. Jockson Dhas and Varun Mathur were taken off. However, the half ended goalless.
The second half was headlined by the sheer goalkeeping heroics of TRAU goalkeeper Shayan Roy.
The hosts survived a scare in the 50th minute, when Vijay’s low-driven cross was almost deflected into the back of his own net by Deepak Devrani. But to his relief, the ball rolled inches wide off the woodwork.
In the 58th minute, Chennai had a free-kick on the edge of the box. Katsumi Yusa curled one destined for the top-left corner but was denied by a fine save from Shayan Roy.
Chennai retained possession and kept the attack alive. Ajith Kumar’s cross found Roberto Eslava, who headed towards goal from point-blank range and instead of setting off on his celebratory lap, he knelt to the floor with his head in his hands after Shayan Roy had produced the save of the season to deny him, diving at full-stretch to his right, showcasing astounding reflexes.
Shayan was at it again, repelling Fito’s left-footed drive in the 65th minute. He couldn’t have done anything about the Spaniard’s free-kick a minute later but the crossbar came to Roy’s rescue.
Three minutes later, he threw himself at yet another Eslava header from close range, leaving the Chennai skipper wondering what else he needs to do to break the custodian's resilience.
TRAU could have wrapped up the three points but substitute Krishnananda Singh missed a sitter in the 89th minute, failing to convert a delightful Premjit Singh delivery, barely a couple of yards away from goal.
In the final minute of stoppage time, Chennai threw the kitchen sink. Katsumi’s cross found Fito on his favoured left but Shayan was there, to throw his cap at it yet again and claim the Hero of the Match by quite some distance.
With that result, TRAU rise on the table with 16 points while the defending champions Chennai City are lower down the standings with 15 points.