Mohun Bagan AC won the crunch encounter against bitter rivals East Bengal Club 1-0 in the return leg of the Kolkata Derby in the Hero I-League, courtesy of a Balwant Singh goal early in the second half.
Debjit Majumber, the Bagan custodian was the Hero of the Match as he pulled off a number of good saves to keep his side in contention.
Sanjoy Sen had a completely changed backline, with Anwar Ali making his Hero I-League debut alongside Bello Rasaq in central defense. Kingshuk Debnath was pushed into right back while Sukhen Dey started on the left.
Eelco Schattorie started with the same three frontmen as against Sporting Clube de Goa, with Md. Rafique deployed behind Dudu Omagbemi and Ranti Martins.
It was a cagey affair in the first twenty odd minutes with a midfield battle being the highlight of the derby encounter.
Both teams were limited to long range efforts but both Katsumi Yusa and Arnab Mondal failed to test the goal keepers.
Subhasish Roy Chowdhury almost gifted a goal away in the 27th minute when he dallied on the ball for too long allowing Pierre Boya to put a leg into his goal kick, but thankfully for the keeper, the ball went out.
It was all East Bengal from then on as a barrage of chances led by Dudu greeted the shaky Mohun Bagan defense.
In the 34 minute, Lalrindika Ralte had hit a speculative cross field ball forward towards Dudu. The Nigerian got the better of his marker, Bello Rasaq, whose mistimed clearance fell to him but his shot aimed towards the opposite corner was saved by a diving Debjit Majumder in goal.
In the 38th minute the Ranti-Dudu duo combined brilliantly. A regulation Subhasish goal kick was sent to Ranti who headed it towards his strike partner. A neat one two later and Dudu was on his way past a half asleep Mohun Bagan back line. However it was that man Debjit who pulled off another smart save as he dived to his left to keep him out.
Merely three minutes later, a long ball from the halfline by Mehtab Hossein was made a mess of by the Mariners’ defense. Debjit who came out to grab the ball clashed with his own defender but recovered just in time to palm out another shot from Ralte inside the box.
In added time, Ranti could have found the elusive goal after Dudu bypassed Anwar Ali easily with a lofted ball to his mate. However it was Bello Rasaq who was put the required pressure on him to make Ranti shoot wide.
Mohun Bagan broke the deadlock in the 47th minute, when Subhasish feebly palmed away a shot from Yusa Katsumi, who had run into the East Bengal box from the right. The ball went straight to Balwant, who placed his shot perfectly to put the ball into the net as one part of the gallery erupted.
Ranti got a chance to equalize a few minutes later, but his volley from close range couldn’t pose a test for in-form Debjit.
Rafique flicked the ball on to target in the 89th minute following a Robert cross, but it was cleared by Sukhen Dey. Only a couple of minutes later, he failed to keep his header on target once again despite being unmarked at the far post.
(Report & Picture courtesy I-League Media)