Super Cup: John Gregory pleased with Chennaiyin's 'gutsy performance'

Chennaiyin FC's manager was pleased with his team's second-half performance, which helped turn around the Super Cup quarterfinal against NorthEast United.

John Gregory was pleased with his team's fightback against NorthEast United FC.   -  K. Murali Kumar

In 22 completed matches this season before the Super Cup quarterfinal against NorthEast United, Chennaiyin FC had only once managed to come back from being a goal down to salvage a result. Chennaiyin coach John Gregory was pleased with the fightback shown by his side after it came from behind to claim a win over the Highlanders here at the Kalinga Stadium on Sunday.

NorthEast took an early lead before goals from Mailson Alves and Anirudh Thapa handed Chennaiyin a 2-1 win and a place in the semifinals against ATK on Wednesday.

On the win, Gregory said, “We had to fight really hard tonight, particularly in the second half. Rarely have we fought back from being a goal down [this season]. So I was pleased we managed to get back into the game. It was a real gutsy performance in the second half with everyone digging deep. There were some incredible clearances by our center backs. Mailson’s attitude has been first class at the moment.”

The former ISL champion conceded for the first time in five matches and he put it down to his defenders tiring out over the course of the long season. “My young full-backs (Tondonba Singh and Laldinliana Renthlei) are finding it a little bit difficult at the moment because they are playing every week. They have suffered a little bit with their performances," he said.

The Englishman was annoyed on the touchline after the match referee chose not to caution a few rough tackles on Thapa in the second half. 

“I was surprised [with some decisions]. They seemed to target Thapa every time he was in possession of the ball. I need him protected. You expected the officials will protect your players in that respect. I don’t think they protected him enough today. Chris Herd came on and got a yellow with his first foul,” Gregory pointed out.

A first match in 27 days with an injury-hit squad proved to be the biggest problem for NorthEast against Chennaiyin, according to coach Eelco Schattorie.

“We started the first 10 minutes really well, scored a good goal from a corner. The biggest problem I expected was the lack of match sharpness. Mato Grgic, who had an extended holiday due to a family problem, was finished after the first half.

"I made two changes at the start of the second half because I needed better build up from the back. We played really well. We had enough chances and could have scored. But we were unlucky with the finishing," said Schattorie.

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