ATK suffered a huge blow in the race for a 2018-19 Indian Super League (ISL) playoff spot as they were held to a 2-2 draw by FC Pune City on Sunday at the Balewadi Stadium.
John Johnson (17' O.G.) led onto his own net to give Pune the lead, which was cancelled out by Jayesh Rane (23'). Edu Garcia (61' Pen.) then put ATK in front by converting from the spot but Robin Singh (75') scored the equaliser to seal a point for the hosts.
Phil Brown kept faith in the same side that handed him a 2-1 win over Chennaiyin in his first game on Indian soil. Jayesh Rane replaced Hitesh Sharma in the solitary change made by Steve Coppell, eyeing a second away win of ATK's season.
Both English managers put on an entertaining display of football right from the get go. The signs of goal came early on when Edu Garcia hit the crossbar from range on the rising volley in the 11th minute.
First blood was drawn by the hosts albeit from a Johnson own goal. Robin Singh played an intelligent ball back for an onrushing Stankovic who slammed the ball forward. However, it was the highest-paid player in the league that stuck in his leg to deflect the ball right onto the opposite corner to which Arindam Bhattacharya attempted his dive.
The lead was short-lived as Rane went on to justify his selection six minutes later after his team went down. Edu Garcia's defense-splitting pass through for Rane saw his skip past Golui, only to drift into space, drop shoulders and bang the ball right into his far corner of the net past a hapless Kamaljit Singh.
The split scoreline at half-time was a true reflection of how both sides played their football. Ten minutes post the change of ends, Adil Khan's body block from Garcia's ball in from a short corner saw the ball graze his arms but all appeals for a penalty were turned down.
The penalty did come for the visitors. Diego Carlos was guilty of conceding the spot-kick on the hour mark, going in to win the ball against his compatriot Everton Santos. Edu Garcia made no mistake from six yards as he sent the 'keeper the other way.
Fifteen minutes later, Robin Singh scored his first goal in Pune City colours, that too against his former side. He headed in a Marcelinho corner-kick to level the scoreline.
However, the Kolkata-based outfit could have had two penalties in the dying embers of the game, both coming off substitute Rohit Kumar. First Arnab Mondal and then Kalu Uche appealed for the decision but Jordanian referee Adham Makhadmeh signalled play on both occasions.