Imphal: Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) FC goalkeeper put up a scintillating display as they played out an entertaining goalless draw (0-0) with defending I-League Champions Chennai City FC at the Khuman Lumpak Stadium on Sunday, February 16. TRAU goalkeeper Sayan Roy was magnificent - Chennai City had nine shots on target and the keeper saved them all, including one from the point blank range.
With the result, TRAU rise to fourth on the points table with 16 points from 13 games while the defending champions are seventh with 15 points in 12 matches.
The TRAU line-up sported wholesale changes from their previous loss to Aizawl FC. Sayan replaced Mithun Samanta in goal and Sandeep Singh returned to the backline following his suspension. Shahabaaz Khan also started in defence with Netrajit Singh and Loken Meitei getting the nod in midfield.
Chennai head coach Akbar Nawas made just a couple of changes with Shem Marton Eugene and Jan Muzangu making way for Sriram B and Varun Mathur.
The first half was entertaining as both sides created goal-scoring opportunities but were left to rue their conversions. Chennai took a cautious stance for the half, which prompted the hosts to press hard and recover possession and they executed it quite well.
TRAU earned a penalty in the 13th minute when Ajith Kumar was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the 18-yard box. Skipper Emeka Princewill stepped up for the spot-kick but his effort hit the woodwork and the hosts squandered a glorious opportunity.
In the 33rd minute, Netrajit Singh latched onto a headed clearance by Roberto Eslava and volleyed one towards goal but to his agony, it fizzled just past the post.
Coach Nawas, seemingly not happy with how the game was panning out for his side, made two substitutions in the first half itself, bringing on Pravitto Raju and Jishnu Balakrishnan. Jockson Dhas and Varun Mathur were taken off. However, the half ended goalless.
The second half was headlined by the sheer goalkeeping heroics of Sayan Roy.
The hosts survived a scare in the 50th minute, when Vijay's low-driven cross was almost deflected into the back of his own net by Deepak Devrani. But to his relief, the ball rolled inches wide off the woodwork.
In the 58th minute, Chennai had a free-kick on the edge of the box. Katsumi Yusa curled one destined for the top-left corner but was denied by a fine save from Sayan.
Chennai retained possession and kept the attack alive. Ajith Kumar's cross found Eslava, who headed towards goal from point-blank range and instead of setting off on his celebratory lap, he knelt to the floor with his head in his hands after Sayan Roy had produced the save of the season to deny him, diving at full-stretch to his right, showcasing astounding reflexes.
Sayan was at it again, repelling Fito's left-footed drive in the 65th minute. He couldn't have done anything about the Spaniard's free-kick a minute later but the crossbar came to Roy's rescue.
Three minutes later, he threw himself at yet another Eslava header from close range, leaving the Chennai skipper frustrated.
TRAU could have wrapped up the three points but substitute Krishnananda Singh missed a sitter in the 89th minute, failing to convert a delightful Premjit Singh delivery, barely a couple of yards away from goal.
In the final minute of stoppage time, Chennai threw the kitchen sink. Katsumi's cross found Fito on his favoured left but Sayan was there once again to throw himself in between and claim the Hero of the Match by quite some distance.