Owen Coyle’s Jamshedpur FC are within a point of securing their first-ever League Winners Shield. The Red Miners beat Odisha FC 5-1 at the GMC Athletic Stadium on Friday night, with Daniel Chima Chukwu netting a brace.
A point from the final round of fixtures will be enough to push Jamshedpur FC over the line. The Red Miners topped the table on Friday night – three ahead of their closest challengers ATK Mohun Bagan – following a five-star performance against a hapless Odisha FC. Daniel Chima Chukwu scored twice for Owen Coyle’s side, making it seven goals in his eight appearances, while Greg Stewart made things tick, as usual.
Jamshedpur took the lead in the 23rd minute – both Stewart and Chukwu key for the opening goal. The Scotsman nearly recreated his early-season heroics but, this time, his freekick from 30 yards out rattled the crossbar and bounced back into play, where it was promptly headed in for the opening goal by Chukwu. The Nigerian added a second, three minutes later, after stealing the ball off Paul Ramfangzauva and slotting it into the bottom corner from just inside the box.
However, the champions-elect conceded a calamitous goal just before the interval. Their failure to deal with the ball – again and again – allowed Odisha to pour men forward. Paul latched on and, looking to compensate for his earlier mistake, let fly a shot goalwards through a horde of bodies. Bookending a dreadful few seconds for the Red Miners, custodian TP Rehenesh spilled Paul’s shot over his goal-line.
Nevertheless, Stewart’s guile and creativity allowed Jamshedpur to push further in front of their opponents after the interval. First, in the 54th minute, the Scotsman dinked the ball over the Odisha defense for Ritwik Das to score. Later, in the 71st, he provided the cross, which Jordan Murray converted from the center of the box to put JFC 4-1 up on the scoreline.
Unhappy with a decision – or rather the lack of one – in the latter play, Jonathas de Jesus dissented and was shown a second yellow card by the official. To make matters worse for the Juggernauts, Ishan Pandita added a fifth, off the bench, in the 87th minute.
Odisha finished the regular season in seventh position despite signs of early promise – and will play no further part in the competition. Jamshedpur, on the other hand, are a point away from the Shield but face their closest competitors ATK Mohun Bagan in the final game.