Mumbai: Eugene Gray struck in his first appearance for Mohammedan Sporting in the I-League to help the Calcutta club to a face-saving 1-1 draw against Air India at the Cooperage here on Sunday.
The hosts took the lead in the 18th minute through a solo effort by Subash Singh but Mohammedan Sporting, languishing in the relegation zone, offered a spirited fightback and the Liberian Gray headed in a ball from Feroz Wasim for the equaliser in the 61st minute.
Gray was signed as the long-injured Theodore Sundays replacement, and joined the Calcutta club only on Saturday after flying in from Indonesia where he was playing in the national league.
His arrival seemed to have a galvanising effect on a team that looked hopeless during a 3-0 loss to Mumbai FC at the same venue earlier in the week.
Although the outcome could have been different had Air India converted one more of the many opportunities they created, Mohammedan Sporting showed the spark that was missing in their earlier matches. They were the dominant side without doubt in the second half and they did well to hold on for a draw after being reduced to 10 men in the last quarter.
The match was marred by two red cards. Mohammedan Sportings Madhab Das was sent off after receiving a second yellow card in the 73rd minute while Michael Tayo of Air India was penalised for attempting a hand of god in the dying minutes.
Das invited the referees attention after he kicked Air Indias Soccor Velho following a collision in the latters penalty area.
But Tayos action smacked of immaturity since he would miss the crucial match against Mohun Bagan next Sunday as a result of his red card.
Mohammedan Sporting: Naseem Akhtar, Prem V. Kumar, Madhab Das, Mike Okoro, Suroj Mondal (Satyajit Bose 55), Eugene Gray, Sovan Chakraborty, Adewusi Adebayo, Rajib Ghosh, Amla Francis Nova (Bijoy Das 24), Jothi Kumar (Mir Farooq Hyder 76).
Air India: Arup Debnath, Napoleon Singh, Ravinder Singh, Uttam Kr Singh, Soccor Velho (Agnelo Picardo 77), Subash Singh, Surojit Roy (Hringsolal Tomte 70), Kailash Patil (Emanuel Olieveghara 66), Amritpal Singh, Michael Tayo, Chukwuma Udofia.
Referee: Pratap Singh
MoM: Michael Tayo