Talking Point: Can SC East Bengal’s fragile defence stop Nerijus Valskis?

SC East Bengal will be hoping to kick-start their 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) campaign with a win against Jamshedpur FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Thursday. The Kolkata giants are yet to score a goal or pick up a point this season and will be hoping to change that when they face Jamshedpur. Owen Coyle’s men, on the other hand, will be confident after a win in their previous game and they will be eager to kick on. Here, we assess a few of the factors that could have a bearing on the outcome of the contest on Thursday.

Lack of goals hurting SC East Bengal

SC East Bengal have been creating chances but their inability to convert them has been holding them back. They have the second worst shot accuracy in the league (20.51%) and have taken 17 shots from inside the box, which is the second lowest among all 11 teams. Their last match against NorthEast United FC saw them dominate the ball with 57% ball possession and they managed eight shots as compared to the Highlanders’ five. However, just one of their eight shots were on target and Robbie Fowler will know that they must begin to test the goalkeepers frequently if they want a change in fortunes.

Nerijus Valskis is Jamshedpur’s biggest threat

The Lithuanian striker has already found the back of the net five times in four matches this season. His brace in Jamshedpur’s last game were the first goals that ATK Mohun Bagan’s resolute defence conceded in Hero ISL 2020-21. Valskis tests the goalkeepers with most of his attempts and has been on target with seven of his 11 efforts on goal this season. He’s scored five of Jamshedpur’s six goals and will be relishing the prospect of going up against SC East Bengal’s defence, which has conceded at least two goals in each of their games so far.

Pilkington and Maghoma are SC East Bengal’s key men

Even though SC East Bengal are yet to score this season, it’s not for a lack of trying. Anthony Pilkington and Jacques Maghoma, in particular, have been doing their best to make things happen for the Kolkata club. Pilkington has attempted 12 shots at an average of four shots per match. Four of the Irishman’s efforts have been on target, while the rest of his teammates have combined for just as many on target attempts. Maghoma, meanwhile, leads the chances created (5), interceptions made (7) and dribbles completed (5) charts among SC East Bengal players. He’s also completed the most final third passes (86) among his teammates.

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