A blunder by skipper and goalkeeper Shilton Paul cost league leaders Mohun Bagan AC dearly as they slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat against Bharat FC in a rescheduled Round 4 match of the Hero I-League at the Balewadi Sports Complex on Tuesday (May 5, 2015).
The end result could have been much worse for the Kolkata side had it not been two superb second half one-on-one saves against Subhash Singh Singham by Paul.
Coming into the game on the back of 1-1 draw against Mumbai FC, the visitors were huge favourites to win the game and extend their lead at the top to four points, but they looked very tentative on the ball from the start. On the other hand Bharat FC players looked lively and confident playing at home turf.
The first chance of the match also went to hosts as Bobbby Hassell and Steven Dias combined on the right side with latter crossing a low shot into the box towards Manjit to earn Bharat FC’s first corner of the game. The resulting corner again saw Manjit get ahead of Bagan’s defence, but his header was off-target.
Two minutes later Bharat FC caused trouble for visitor with Dias taking aim at Paul’s goal which was deflected by Kinshuk Debnath. Mariners had their first clear chance of the game in the 11th minute when Bharat FC’s keeper rushed off his line to cut path of sprinting Norde but his clearance fell kindly to Dhanchandra Singh who put the ball wide of the post from almost half line.
The goal came in most unorthodox way in the 34th minute of the game, Paul took his time to clear the ball and was closed down by Subhash Singh, which forced Bagan custodian into taking a goal-kick which deflected off Singh and found the back of the end to leave Paul stunned and red-faced.
The second half saw Dharamraj Ravanan make crucial tackle in the 61st minute to snatch the ball off Sony Norde’s feet which otherwise could’ve resulted in an equaliser. Immediately after that Balwant Singh wasted golden opportunity as he skewed the ball over the bar when he had only Arindam Bhattacharjee to beat.
Bello’s defensive error saw Subhash Singh run at Bagan’s goal but Paul came off his line to deflect the shot for corner. Two minutes later Paul again had to come out of 6-yard box to save another effort by Singh.
In the closing minutes of the game Bagan tried desperately to find an equaliser and take away a point but Bharat FC survived waves after waves of Mariner attack to take full three points.
With this vital win Bharat FC climbed to 10th spot with 15 points, while Bagan’s title dreams were dented with their lead was cut to just one point as they have 32 points from 16 games.
(Report & Picture courtesy I-League Media)