Emmanuel Ovieghara finally opened his account in the I-League, scoring a vital equaliser in the 64th minute to help Air India hold a dominant Mumbai FC to a 1-1 draw in the 17th round match at the Cooperage in Mumbai on Saturday.
However, Air India, who move up to eighth spot with 19 points, are still searching for their first victory after beating JCT at home in a 7th round match on Nov 9, 2008.
Mumbai FC too move up one notch to fourth position with 24 points. They however could be displaced if East Bengal win later tonight in Kolkata. The airmen had incidentally won the first leg encounter 2-0.
It was just the result a beleaguered Bimal Ghosh was looking for in this local derby as Air India erred on the side of caution in the first half in which David Booth's men held complete sway.
Kalia Kuluthongan's well-taken header in the 39th minute to meet a curling cross into the box from Felix Aboagye on the right, was a perfect reward for all the good work his team had done till then.
Had the promoted team taken their chances they could have well trooped out victors. But Aboagye blew away some half chances that were flicked down for him by Abhishek Yadav. He even missed a sitter after Uttam Singh had gifted him the ball in the box in the 11th minute, putting his try wide with only Arup Debnath to beat.
The airmen rallied strongly in the second session in quest of the equaliser, creating quite a few half chances and forcing seven corners in all. But they had hardly any shies at the rival target.
They finally drew level when their hardworking medio Michael Tayo floated the ball into the box for his Nigerian colleague. Ovieghara beat the challenge of rookie John Benedict in the air and nodded over Amit Singha Roy who had unwisely left his line and was caught in no man's land.
In the dying seconds of the match the Mumbai FC custodian was unfairly penalised by M Bhattacharya for time wasting when there was no need for any caution.
Mumbai FC could have taken the lead again when the industrious Abel Hammond, who was his usual tricky self on the right flank, sent in a precise cross in the 69th minute which Yadav headed down just wide of the post.