Maintaining their positions on the league table – 6th and 7th respectively, Odisha now have 17 points while the Mariners have 16, having played two games less. Interestingly, ATK Mohun Bagan face arch-rivals SC East Bengal in the Kolkata derby on January 29.
The ‘home’ team never looked like they were out of action for a while, being on the front foot from the word go. Roy Krishna showed early intentions with a drive from close but the angle was too acute as Arshdeep Singh saved it without any fuss.
Liston Colaco let fly a long ranger soon after as ATKMB bossed the game. Victor Mongil then had to put his body on the line to keep a David Williams piledriver at bay as the ball went out for a corner. It was a stunning block from Mongil as Odisha lived to fight another day.
Colaco put his laces through the ball from distance but it went just over as the Mariners kept coming at Odisha. Krishna was dealt with again by Mongil as he cut the Fijian’s angle.
Colaco missed from close just before the half-hour mark and again forced Arshdeep into a brilliant save later. The halftime whistle brought an end to an exhibition of attacks from ATKMB as the Odisha defence breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Hector Rodas never emerged back from the tunnel as Nikhil Prabhu replaced him for the second half. Ashutosh Mehta had almost turned villain after giving away a cheap freekick right away after the change of ends. Isaac Vanmalsawma’s attempt was parried off by an alert Amrinder Singh.
Jerry Mawihmingthanga picked Odisha up, who looked the better side. His combination with Javi Hernandez kept Bagan on their toes but they were profligate. Prabir Das was brought in for Roy Krishna at the hour mark.
Javi Hernandez carved out a couple of chances against his former side on either side of the cooling break. First, he hit the side netting which followed a sketchy clearance from a corner. Then, he did find the back of the net, but it was ruled offside.
Odisha tested Bagan’s resolve in the dying embers of the game with a barrage of attempts but Amrinder Singh stood his ground, maintaining a clean sheet before the all-important derby next weekend.