The wait came to an end for the eager fans when Jamshedpur FC stepped back to the pitch after their inactive months of the off-season, for their first game of Hero ISL 2021-22. For their opening game, Jamshedpur FC went against SC East Bengal at the Tilak Maidan stadium, Goa, for an away match. With renewed energy and the same goal in mind, both teams began their campaign aiming to walk away victorious in their season opener.
As the kick-off whistle blew, the squad commenced the game from the kick-off spot and kept the ball possession on their side looking to unleash an attack. Both sides shared equal possession and had their chances to gain the lead over the other, but the defensive line-ups on both ends of the pitch dealt with the attacks.
A creative link-up between Len and Valskis in the attacking third of SC East Bengal, led to an attempt at goal by Valskis but the shot got blocked by a defender’s hand inside the box. The referee asked the teams to continue the game after denying the penalty call by Jamshedpur FC. SC East Bengal stepped up their attacking game and won a corner kick at the end of the 20th minute. The hosts took an early lead as they converted the corner kick into a goal; Franjo Prce attempted to score after Rehenesh punched the cross away from goal, which deflected off of Valskis’s shoulder and landed into the back of the net.
After taking the early lead, SC East Bengal slowed the game down to keep the lead until the half-time whistle went off, while the visitors continued their attempts to get back in the game with an equalising goal. Another threatening corner was awarded to the hosts after Rehenesh cleared the ball to the outside. The set-piece got crossed into the box from the wing which landed into the feet of the attackers of the Red and Gold Brigade and then put away in the back of the net, but the goal was called off as off-side by the referee, thus keeping the score at 1-0.
Both teams picked up their pace as the game approached its half-time mark with attacks being unleashed on both sides of the park and yet nothing came out of it. Right when the half-time whistle was about to go off, Jamshedpur FC won a corner kick in the last play and got back in the game right when they needed it. The ball got whipped into the box filled with Jamshedpur players. The Lithuanian forward, Nerijus Valskis, then attempted a header which bounced towards the skipper, Peter Hartley, who was situated at the far post as he used his shoulder to put the ball inside the net thus bringing the Men of Steel back into the game with 1-1 in the last play of the first 45 minutes.
The second half kicked-off with both teams looking to gain the advantage over the opposition with Ishan Pandita and Komal Thatal getting subbed in to make their debut for Jamshedpur FC. The Men of Steel unleashed fast-paced attacks with the momentum gained after scoring the equaliser. They tried to grab another goal as the former golden boot winner, Nerijus Valskis, got the ball to his left after beating his marker right outside the box and took a shot with his left foot, but was parried away by the opposition's man between the sticks, Arindam Bhattacharja, from heading into the bottom corner. Both teams pushed hard to score the goal that would take them to the lead in their first game, especially Jamshedpur as they pressed with all their might in the midfield as well as the attacking third. Jamshedpur FC unleashed their full attack by subbing in Jordan Murray and Greg Stewart to make their debut and also put more pressure on the hosts.
The second half was mostly dominated by the Men of Steel with attacks unleashed from the wings as well as the middle of the pitch, but all the ambitious attempts were denied by the defence of the host side. With a couple of changes in their midfield and attacking line-up, SC East Bengal almost scored a second goal for themselves as the former Jamshedpur FC midfielder, Jackichand Singh, won the ball in the midfield and took a shot towards the Jamshedpur goal from the half-line with the aim of chipping the goalkeeper. TP Rehenesh was off his line but the Jamshedpur players breathed a sigh of relief as Jackichand’s attempt flew over the crossbar. The final 20 minutes of the game grew more intense with fouls being committed by both teams as they desperately tried to take the lead to grab the winning points in their first game of the season and move up the points table.
As the match entered its closing extra minutes after the 90 minute mark, Jamshedpur FC got awarded a final play corner-kick which they aimed to convert into a last minute goal to take the victory as the players crowded the opposition box. The ball got whipped into the far edge of the box to Alex Lima, who tried to head the ball into the top right corner, but the attempt went wide after which the referee blew the full-time whistle, thus concluding the away game.
The intense fixture ended with both teams sharing the points in their first game of the season at the Tilak Maidan stadium.
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