Mahindra United paid the price for their shoddy display as they went down rather tamely to Goan outfit Fransa Pax Football Club in a 13th round match of the ninth ONGC National Football League at the Cooperage ground on Monday.
It certainly was a 'black Monday' for Mumbai football fans as their team, Mahindra United, succumbed to a 25th minute strike by Fransa-Pax's play-maker Jules Alberto Dias.
The Goan outfit with the full three points from this win, now tally 21 points and move to the third rung in the league standings. Mahindra United still struggling to perform as a perfect winning team, slipped to fifth place as they continue to stay on 19 points.
Mahindras have themselves to blame as they failed to convert from the chances that came their way. Their twin-strike Brazilian flavour - Flavio Rodrigues and Rodrigo de Almeida failed to create any kind of impact on the rival citadel. The former had his fair share of chances, but blew them away.
Flavio had three attempts in the first 20 minutes but on all three occasions fired straight into the hands of Fransa goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey, who showed a clean pair of hands and looked confident under the bar.
The Mahindra midfield was also not upto the mark. Skipper Khalid Jamil was unable to work in tandem with S Venkatesh, Jatin Bisht and Surkumar Singh.
Their defence as usual once again proved to be their strong point. Peter Siddique and Covan Lawrence defended stoutly in the centre, while wing back Debabrata Roy had a good day in office. The hard-working Roy played sensibly at the back and was on hand to lend support to the attack. He provided a couple of passes into the rival area but his teammates proved unequal to the task.
In contrast, Fransa, played a tactical game and preferred to adopt a defensive approach. They played with just one striker Joseph Ogor and packed their midfield with five players and crowded the path for Mahindra to make inroads into their territory. And on the number of occasions that Mahindra managed to break through, their defenders and goalkeeper Chaubey stood the test and came out with flying colours.
Although Mahindras threatened to strike first initially, the Goan outfit forged ahead in the 25th minute through a well-guided header by Jules Alberto. The goal materalised when Peter Rodrigues' flag-kick from the right was headed by Ogor into the Mahindra goal area. Alberto unmarked headed firmly past goalkeeper Sunder Rajan to bring cheer to the Goan camp.
Ranjan though beaten once in the match had a good game and denied Fransa from adding to the tally when he brought a superb diving save off Benjiman Ansah's rasping 25-yard drive in the 34th minute.
After the change of ends Mahindra upped the tempo and went all out in search of goal to restore parity. They repeatedly raided the rival ciadel, but all their efforts proved elusive. Abhishek Yadav who replaced Jamil at the start the second half was also ineffective.
Fransa also made a couple tries in the second half but were unable to increase their margin of victory.
Sanjeev Kumar Maria of Fransa was given the man of the match.
Mahindra United next travel to Goa to take on Salgaocar Sports Club, on Sunday, March 27.
The 9th National League match between JCT Mills - East Bengal Club which was supposed to be played on Monday at the Guru Nanak Stadium, Ludhiana will be played on Tuesday.