Keeping to the promise of Head Coach Santosh Kashyap, MumbaiÃ‚Â started on a winning note. The home side, showing plenty of commitment and producing a disciplined performance pulled off a narrow 1-0 win against DSK Shivajians , Pune to clinch the bragging right in the 'Maharashtra Derby', an opening round I-League 2016-17 match, at the Cooperage ground, on Sunday evening.
The win was all the more precious for the Mumbaikars as the team played without a foreign recruit.
In the previous meeting between the two sides on this ground, the Mumbai side had won 4-0 in the concluding I-League match last season.
Mumbai Head Coach Santosh Kashyap started with 3-5-2 formation. The experienced stopper Pratik Chaudhari was supported by Reagan Singh and Shallum Pires and they along with the midfield marshalled by skipper Steven Dias defended well to deny the visitors from gaining total control. The vastly experienced goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani tended the Mumbai citadel and had a good day in office. The attack was spearheaded by Victorino Fernandes and Thoi Singh.
The visiting DSK Shivajians Manager Dave Rogers, who had promised to play an open attacking game also started with three men at the back and five in the middle.
The Pune outfit quickly found their rhythm and started probing deep into the Mumbai area. But except for a couple of stray attempts they were unable to have a clear shot on target in the initial period.
The men in yellow were unable to settle down and make inroads towards the rival goal initially. But midway through the half, their game fell in place and they struck from their first clear chance. Midfielder Farukh Chaudhary, who was impressive with his fine control and excellent distributions, floated a ball into area. A DSK Shivajians defender got to the ball but his clearance landed nicely for Thoi, who in a flash unleashed a half-volley which beat the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Soram Poirem Angaba and kissed the underside of the horizontal bar and bounced into the goal to bring the Yellow Brigade fans on their feet in the 22nd minute. Three minutes later, Pratesh Shirodkar snap effort from the edge of the area was taken care of by DSK Shivajians custodian.
Later, Kattimani was alert enough to parry over Kim Song Yong header off Sanju Pradhan's curling cross from the right in the 29th minute. Ten minutes Thoi after a solo run worked with Farukh on the left flank to make space and then with a measured through pass put Dias in the clear. But the skipper hastily fired wide off target much to dismay of his large number of supporters.
The Mumbaikars after having gained the advantage continued to hold swagger in the second half and could have added to the scoreline had Victorino been converted the opportunities that came his way. Eight minutes later Dias after a darting run down the right sent in a precise ball across the rival goal, and this time Victorino was late in reaching the end of the pass and with an open goal in front.
DSK Shivajians tried their best to come into the game, but they could not break down the Mumbai defence in the remaining period and had to end up on the losing side. Skipper Juan Quero Barraso and North Korean Yong put in extra efforts, but all proved futile as the Mumbai defenders were resolute in their defending to come out trumps.
Coach Kashyap gave full credit to his players for the win. "It was a fantastic victory. Everybody contributed 100 percent by giving their best effort throughout the 90 minutes," said Kashyap in the post match press conference.
"I believe in the young team and my players. I assure you that we will keep getting better with every match," he further said.
Result: Mumbai 1-0 DSK Shivajians
Starting XI: Kattimani (GK); Shallum, Pratik, Reagan Singh; Pratesh Shirodkar, Kim Kima, Siam Hanghal; Farukh [56'], Thoi, Steven (C) [62']; Victorino [75']
Subs: Kunal (GK), Shilton, Karan [75'], Chandra, Hitesh [56'], Nikhil [62'], Munmun
Goal(s): Thoi Singh (22')