ATK Mohun Bagan FC held West Ham United FC to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday at the Reliance Corporate Park in Navi Mumbai during the opening fixture of the Premier League Next Generation Cup.
The third-place occupant of the recently-concluded Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) was within touching distance of taking away three points from this game. However, a late goal by the Hammers’ substitute Favour Fawunmi ensured that the incumbent FA Youth Cup champion walked away with a point.
The Mariners started off on a positive note. They regularly made inroads into the West Ham defence by initiating incisive passing patterns through the middle. In the 10th minute, as the backline recovered possession and moved up the field, ATKMB forward Suhail Ahmad Bhat quickly capitalised upon a goal-scoring opportunity. He got past the Hammers’ backline and rounded off a clinical finish by putting the ball into the bottom right corner.
The team from Kolkata was pretty tenacious in its defensive efforts thereafter, as its midfield came together to break attacks at the centre of the park. The trio of Suhail, Kiyan Nassiri Giri and Ningombam Engson Singh interlinked brilliantly as they exploited the open spaces in the West Ham defence.
The Hammers came across a fine opportunity to equalise in the 50th minute but Lewis Orford’s spot-kick was cleverly denied by ATK Mohun Bagan shot-stopper Arshdeep, who dived low on his left to save the shot. However, the substitutions that West Ham rang in did the trick for them and ensured that they avoided starting off the tournament with a defeat.
“We are facing the champion of the FA Youth Cup in England, a country in the top five of the current FIFA rankings. They had an amazing final, beating Arsenal 5-1 in the Emirates. We knew who we were facing, so the message was to keep fighting until the end, as we always do. There is always a chance, opportunity, and momentum to score, and we did quite well because we had three-four good chances, off which we scored one,” said ATK Mohun Bagan coach Josep Maria Roma Gibert.
“The message was to have patience. We could have had more. There were situations when we missed the penalty. There were opportunities in the box where we should have been converting them,” West Ham United coach Lauris Coggin said.
West Ham United next faces Bengaluru FC while ATK Mohun Bagan will be locking horns with Stellenbosch FC in their respective next games on May 20.
RFYC 1 (Sanan Mohammed 45’) – 0 Sudeva Delhi FC
In another fixture, the Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) tasted success against Sudeva Delhi FC as the side defeated the Chencho Dorji-coached team 1-0.
RFYC, knocked out of the recently-concluded RFDL by Sudeva in the semifinal on Thursday last week, put in an improved performance to take three points from the Delhi-based club.
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