Mumbai FC continued their unbeaten home run form by defeating table-toppers Royal Wahingdoh FC 2-1 in a Round 7 match of the Hero I-League at The Cooperage on Friday.
Mumbai came back from a goal down to register their second win of the season, having defeated Salgaocar 3-0 in the previous round. A goal each by Justin Stephen and Mohammad Rafi in the second half was enough for Mumbai to claim three points after Bekay Bawar put the visitors ahead early in the first half.
Though Mumbai went home with maximum points, it was Wahingdoh who got the better of the early exchanges. The trio of Seityasen Singh, Bawar and Kim Song Yong created a lot of trouble for the Mumbai defence. They were fed with purposeful balls by their midfield, particularly Godwin Franco and Densil Theobald.
The Trinidadian World Cupper bossed the midfield, distributing the ball accurately. Naoba Singh made darting runs on the right wing, helping Wahingdoh use the width to their advantage.
The debutantes had an opportunity to take the lead in the 13th minute but Seityasen Singh’s shot from edge of the box sailed just over the bar.
However, they went ahead in the next minute. Naoba picked up a pass from the right and headed it towards Seityasen, who played it first time to Yong. The Korean turned and laid it off for Bawar whose shot took a deflection and went past a flat-footed Nidhin Lal.
Buoyed by the early goal, the visitors asserted their supremacy by controlling possession and making inroads into Mumbai defence. However, they were unable to take any dangerous shots at goal.
Late into the first half, Naoba picked up and injury and was replaced by Lalmangaihsanga. Naoba’s absence was immediately felt by Wahingdoh as they could not create those dangerous moves from the right.
The half-time break helped Mumbai regroup and they equalised soon after restart. Wahingdoh were unable to clear the ball from a Mumbai attack in the 51st minute and Justin Stephen scored from the resulting skirmish.
The goal brought the crowd back to life and Mumbai upped the pressure on the visitors. Their midfield started working well and looked more cohesive. Birthday boy Jayesh Rane’s energetic runs proved too much to handle for Wahingdoh and he was well-supported by Hero of the Match Taisuke Matsugae in the middle.
Santosh Kashyap introduced youngster Jackichand Singh mid-way through the first half but the in-form player too couldn’t provide the spark that Wahingdoh missed in second half.
Mumbai took the lead in 73rd minute after a long throw from Allan Dias found its way to Rafi, who put it past goalkeeper Prem Kumar Singh. Stephen had an opportunity to score his second goal but his header from Paresh Shivalkar’s free-kick was slightly wide off the mark. Wahingdoh could not muster a single decent shot at goal in the second half.
Mumbai continue to remain on eighth place with seven points from six matches. Wahingdoh’s fate on the top of the table will depend on the result of other matches.