Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson expressed disappointment as his team played to a 3-3 draw against Punjab FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday.

The Shers opened the scoreline in the 19th minute of the match when centre-back Nikhil Prabhu slotted in a perfect delivery from Madih Talal’s freekick. Bengaluru FC reacted quickly as Harsh Patre equalized for them within a minute.

In the 26th minute, Punjab FC defender Dimitrios Chatziisaias gave the hosts the lead for the second time, which was soon doubled by their striker, Luka Majcen. Just before the halftime whistle, the Blues struck back through the feet of Curtis Main when the Englishman capitalized on Punjab FC goalkeeper Ravi Kumar’s mistake.

Spanish midfielder Javi Hernandez leveled the scores in the 67th minute, giving his team the momentum, only for Bengaluru FC to settle for a draw courtesy of Ravi Kumar’s last-minute heroics between the posts.

The head coach regrets selecting the wrong team to start the match, and even then, he is shocked at how poorly they played in the first 10-15 minutes.

“Well, when the team played like they did (in the) first half, of course, I have regrets that I probably picked the wrong team. However, I didn't expect us to play that poorly with the team that we put out and make basic mistakes. We didn't play with any purpose or ask too many questions, I understand. I felt a little bit anxious for the first 10-15 minutes, as we weren't looking for the ball enough. We didn't stop the opposition from playing; it was too easy. We made too many mistakes,” stated Grayson in the post-match press conference. 

Young midfielder Harsh Patre started the game alongside Keziah Veendorp in midfield, and the 20-year-old made a promising impact.

He played a quick one-two with Javier Hernandez and Sunil Chhetri, with the latter setting him up for his first goal in BFC colours.

Praising the midfielder, Grayson said, “I think what I've shown this year is that if you're good enough, you'll get games. Four of the B team players have already made their debuts this year. I think our club is in a transitional period where we are integrating younger players into the first team, focusing on quality."

"He (Harsh Patre) gets in because he can handle the ball well, possesses good energy, and isn't afraid to tackle. He serves as a good example to some of the more senior players who may not be fulfilling these roles and responsibilities," Grayson added.

“And the same with Robin (Yadav) as well. And they've done enough to justify being picked whenever I pick them because I think they are good players and there's enough of a batch underneath as well that are waiting to get into the first team,” he continued.

Bengaluru FC are now winless in their last five matches, with their last victory dating back to the opening week of October against East Bengal FC.

Grayson is not pleased with some of the mistakes his players made tonight and believes this should serve as a wake-up call for them.

“Never once last year did we make stupid mistakes like we did tonight, but it just shows you where we are, probably, that some of the players have let the club down and myself down and I'll take responsibility, as I said, as well. But we've got to make sure that it's a wake-up call for a lot of the players because as mentioned, some of the senior players will be under pressure given that the younger players that we've got.”

Bengaluru FC missed the presence of Australian forward Ryan Williams, who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury. The Englishman has provided an update on his injury and the probable return date.

“It's not an injury where it's just going to keep him out for a long period of time. If we can get him back before any of the games before Christmas. I think that's more a realistic aim. But again, with the hamstring, you've got to be very careful with him because he did it just after the first break and in training and got back within ten days, and he just obviously had a recurrence. So we've got to be very careful with it. But yeah, he was a miss tonight because at least he would have had the energy and the quality. After all, he's been a key player for us," Grayson commented.