David Booth was talking tall of "ending the season with a flourish". On Wednesday, he was lucky his ten-strong Mumbai FC did not end up on the losing side against Chirag United. The 21st round I-League match at the Cooperage in Mumbai ended in a goalless draw.
The tie was however a good enough result for the Englishman whose side ensured they were safe from relegation with the point. It took their tally to 28 and moved them up to fifth position.
Subrata Bhattacharya's outfit, which also scaled the ladder to ninth position with 23 points, however, have not ensured safety and will have to hope for the best in their last round match against already relegated Vasco Sports Club in Goa.
Mumbai FC's performance dipped abysmally in the second session after displaying fair resolve in the first, prompting Booth to apologise to the media for the overall poor show. On the other hand, the visiting side, for whom it was a do-or-die battle, were a shade superior and created ample chances to take home full points.
But wayward finishing proved to be their undoing as striker Subair Muritala Ali, substitute Hardeep Singh, wide half-back Lalmalswama Hmar and forward Shankar Oraon frittered away some decent chances.
The most dramatic episode of the match came not at the decisive ends but in the midfield in the 78th minute as MFC medio Kalia Kulothungan, who is also the side's highest scorer in the tournament with seven goals, was shown the red card by referee A Rowan (Services) for a petty foul on his counterpart Denson Devdas, his second bookable offence.
Listless MFC were only too happy to close shop after that and young Anas Edathodika, deputising as stopper back for the injured James Dissiramah, showed the requisite commitment to help his side keep a clean slate and win the man of the match award. Rookie goalkeeper Lihas Koya, playing in place of the regular Kalyan Chaubey, also had a good outing under the bar, sealing his contribution with a couple of good saves.
With their future secured, Booth said that he will now field his reserves in the last match against JCT away to find out whether they have the talent to deliver the goods in the next season.