Jerry Mawihmingthanga makes history with fastest ISL goal
On Wednesday, ISL debutants Jamshedpur FC picked up only their third win of the season, a 2-1 victory against two-time finalists Kerala Blasters at the JRD Tata Complex. It was a game that began in dramatic fashion, including a goal inside 22 seconds.
Home side Jamshedpur FC's defender Andre Bikey first hoofed the ball up, and Kerala Blasters captain Sandesh Jhingan headed it out for a throw-in before shuffling into position. Jamshedpur took the throw quickly and it landed at the feet of striker Ashim Biswas, who miscued what looked like a shot, but ended up just getting the last bit of his boot.
Enter Jerry Mawihmingthanga.
With Wes Brown caught out of position, Jhingan was needed to cover Kerala goalkeeper Paul Rachubka as he came out of his line to collect the feeble Biswas effort. Showing good presence of mind, 20-year-old Jerry calmly beat Rachubka to the ball, took a touch to take it beyond his grasp and then slotted the ball in to put Jamshedpur one up.
The entire action had taken all of 22 seconds, and it was Jerry's first ISL goal. The experienced duo of Rachubka and Brown were just collecting their thoughts, while Jhingan was ruing not having dropped deep enough after his clearance.
It was also the fastest goal scored in the ISL, in its 232nd match, since the inception of the tournament in 2014.
When Jamshedpur had drawn up their squad for their debut season last year, the major concern was about the attacking third, with Jerry and Biswas -- similar in their short stature and core skills of control and speed, but separated by 15 years in age - forming an odd couple, hoping to support foreign-born attackers Kervens Belfort and Izu Azuka.
Jerry was always picked out for big things, especially by midfielder Mehtab Hossain, who had singled him out for praise during a media interaction in Kolkata in November, dubbing him the "next Sunil Chhetri" for his poaching skills.
Jerry has not been an ISL regular before this season, but did feature prominently in the DSK Shivajians team in the I-League last year, a team where he was also part of the academy squad and trained in Liverpool alongside Lallianzuala Chhangte. His then coach Dave Rogers played him across all positions in attack, often dropping him to the wings. He scored just two goals in 15 appearances for them, but was a relentless presence across the pitch and often the most marked player by opposition defenders.
Those experiences seem to be coming in handy, especially as Jerry repaid Biswas' assist on Wednesday, attempting to meet a cross from the left but then letting it roll to his unmarked team-mate, who needed no second invitation to smash the ball past Rachubka.
Both assists could have been unintentional, but the quality of the finish more than made up for it. Jamshedpur finally got going in the final third, and young Jerry wrote his name into the record books of a league he could come to star in through the years to come.