Football teams often seem to find it very hard to replicate the exact style of play over two games. For Pune FC though, following a template over all five of their home games so far at the Balewadi sports complex was something they had uncannily mastered in the current season of the I-League. Interestingly,this template had provided Pune FC with a perfect home-record till Sunday.
This particular template,which involves large periods of the game passing by without anything happening,one moment of brilliance around the 70-minute mark,and then a period of stodgy defending seemed to play out for the fifth consecutive time on a Sunday evening with Pune FC taking on United SC.
The home side showed some attacking endeavour right at the very beginning of the match with young winger Nikhil Kadam being sent into the clear by an expertly weighted James Meyer ball. Kadam,clear on goal,the 20-year-old scuffed his shot as the defender and United SC skipper Rasaq Bello snapped at his heels.
United SC hit back almost immediately with CK Vineeths effort to chip Pune FC keeper Amrinder Singh,lacking power. A couple of minutes later,Nigerian striker Ranti Martins sent in a cross which flashed across the Pune FC goal.
For the next fifteen minutes,both sides scratched around trying to fashion attacking moves from midfield. However both their striking units,seemed to be having an off-day. Pune FCs front-man Mustapha Riga simply did not show any movement,often remonstrating with teammates when balls were played in his direction,without showing any mobility in the final third. Ranti Martins and Eric Brown,the strike-pairing for United SC,were also guilty of the same charge as they simply did not foray into the Pune FC box.
The game finally came alive in the 77th minute when a Douhou Pierre through-ball sent Riga into the clear. Ishan Debnath,the United SC keeper,came out to smother the ball,but under pressure from the advancing Riga,he failed to collect cleanly and all Kadam had to do was to tap the ball into an unguarded net.
With Pune FC in the lead,the story of the match seemed to be following the exact template. As Pune FC,readied to close ranks,they were undone by an inspired moment from United. Martins wriggled clear of Anas Edathodika just outside the Pune FC box and unleashed a fierce shot which Amrinder did well to parry. However,the rebound fell to Souvik Chakraborty who instead of tapping it towards goal,deftly flicked it across the goal where K Asif lashed it high into the right-corner.
Both teams,then inexplicably seemed happy with sharing the spoils,as the focus seemed to be on closing out the game. Coach Mike Snoei,effected a change replacing the ineffectual James Meyer with pacy winger Anthony DSouza but the youngsters enthusiasm seemed to have come too late for Pune FC with the referee soon bringing the game to an end. With Salgaocar FC losing,Pune FCs first home draw and their third on the trot leaves them in second place in the I-League table.