Chennaiyin FC assistant head coach Sandy Stewart lamented his side's missed opportunities as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Mumbai City FC in Matchweek 16 of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Friday.

The Marina Machans began the match in style, launching themselves into the attack for much of the first half. Midfielder Farukh Choudhary almost put his side ahead at the stroke of half-time when he took a shot towards an empty net, but Mumbai City FC defender Akash Mishra made an exceptional clearance off the line, keeping the scores level going into the break.

Mumbai City FC regained control in the second half, forcing Lazar Cirkovic to foul Thaer Krouma inside his own penalty area. Lallianzuala Chhangte failed to convert the resulting penalty, but substitute Bipin Singh broke the deadlock in the 71st minute. In injury time, he followed it up with a banger from outside the box to complete his brace and secure a 2-0 victory for Mumbai City FC.

The assistant coach believes their game plan worked well, as they created several goalscoring opportunities, especially in the first half. However, he feels a lack of clinical finishing ultimately cost them the match.

I think when you have that type of domination in the first half, the game plan went really, really well and (we) had several opportunities and I think you've got to score (from) them. And then the second half, I thought we came out a little bit sluggish in the second half,” stated Stewart in the post-match press conference.

He added, “We definitely didn't start the second half particularly well. And allowed a little bit more space for Mumbai City FC to play. And I mean, at the end of the day, two of the chances that they had, they've taken. But we had numerous chances in the first half. And I think if you score any one of them, it gives you more energy to come out in the second half. And I think the goal definitely took away a bit of energy.”

Despite the defeat, the Scottish tactician maintained an optimistic outlook, highlighting the chances his team created. However, he acknowledged the need for improved clinical finishing to convert those opportunities into goals in upcoming matches.

He said, “Every single day, we work on finishing with all our forwards, all our midfield players, all our wide players. Every one of them is involved in finishing every single day. And the quality is very high every single day. But when you cross that white line, that's when you make your money and that's what's got to happen. The pleasing aspect is we're creating our chances through good play. We just have to be a little bit more clinical.”

While acknowledging his players' effort, Stewart admitted they needed to be more compact in midfield, allowing the visitors to dominate possession with a commanding 61.8% of the ball share.

The 58-year-old shared, “I thought they were getting too much freedom in the middle part. But our boys worked ever so hard. I mean, it wasn't for a lack of effort, and I'm never going to put that at the door.”