There are days when a match passes Robin Singh by, when he pants and strives but barely registers. And then there are days like this. He came on shortly before half-time at the Football Stadium here on Saturday, and battered a gasping Churchill Brothers out of shape.
He was fast, bruising and generally a nightmare for defenders to handle. Robin went on to score one goal and play a hand in the rest as Bengaluru FC dismissed Churchill 3-0.
The captain Sunil Chetri, fresh off a tremendous effort for the national side midweek, effortlessly finished off two moves to help himself to a brace.
The result helped Bengaluru FC consolidate its position at the head of the I-League table, while Churchill remained firmly in the relegation places.
“I just felt we needed an injection; a spark,” the Bengaluru head coach Ashley Westwood said of Robin's 40th minute-introduction.
“We know his attributes; he came on and affected the game.”
The first half had been dreary, Churchill quick to deny Bengaluru’s players any space in the middle of midfield.
The home team struggled and rarely threatened to score; except for a thumping, early drive from Chetri, the Churchill goalkeeper had little to keep him occupied.
Beikhokhei Beingaichho was brought off five minutes from the interval for Robin, and on the other side, the contest was transformed. “I challenged my big players at half-time; I asked for a reaction and we raised our game,” Westwood said.
Robin and Chetri combined well at once. The former was involved in a brief scuffle with the Egyptian Abdelhamid Shabamia, both players earning yellow cards.
The goal arrived in the 56th minute, Robin squaring the ball after a strong run down the right. The ‘keeper Arindam Bhattacharya palmed it out but Chetri whizzed unchallenged into the box to score.
Five minutes later, there was a second, Robin outjumping and bullying his marker Sanjay Balmuchu - who was soon replaced — before racing through on goal to score. Chetri wrapped it up a minute from time, burying the rebound after Robin's shot from C.K. Vineeth’s fine cross had come off the goalie.
The result: Bengaluru FC 3 (Sunil Chetri 56, 89, Robin Singh 61) bt Churchill Brothers 0.