A jinx seems to have descended upon the Cooperage in Mumbai with a drought of goals continuing to plague the spectators like an incurable epidemic. The 16th round encounter between Mahindra United and Mohammedan Sporting on Saturday was the fourth consecutive I-League match at the venue where the scorer was not disturbed at all.
The goalless tie was bad for the 'red devils' who were overtaken by lowly Chirag United after they beat JCT away earlier in the evening. The jeepmen now have been pushed down to eighth position with 18 points while the black and white outfit are even more precariously placed in 11th position with 14 points. The Kolkata team had won the first leg encounter 1-0.
Today's draw was, however, a satisfactory result for Shabbir Ali's modest visitors and yet another setback for Derrick Pereira's big budget ensemble which has forgotten the art of finding the net.
The scratch combination of Sushil Kumar Singh and Mohammed Rafi upfront failed miserably for the home team and the introduction of the highly paid Nigerian import Chidi Edeh in the second session also made no difference to the script. Singh, the reserve India striker, who had started the season productively -- he is still the team's highest scorer in the current tournament -- has lapsed into ineffectiveness and muffed the few chances that he had while also laying mispasses galore.
Mahindras however suffered a stroke of misfortune when substitute Izumi Arata struck the crossbar with his header in the 69th minute off a Sushant Mathew floater. The ball rebounded back into play before it was cleared for a corner, eight of which were earned by the hosts in the second half.
International Steven Dias tried to keep the jeepmen's engine ticking with his trademark curling crosses into the box from the right but his forwards were in a prodigal mood.
The Kolkata team did not look threatening as an offensive outfit as veteran Mike Okoro was below par although plucky and stocky Suroj Mondal gave the Mahindra defence a harrowing time. But he could still not get a clear look at the rival citadel.
The visitors were however not lacking in commitment at the back and man of the match, the pony tailed Gurpreet Singh at right wing back, did not waver in his concentration despite suffering a few niggles.