Mohun Bagan preferred to continue their second-half resurgence against Churchill Brothers whose fate will hang on until the final day of the I-League 2017-18 as the Mariners beat the Red Machines 2-1 at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco on Saturday, March 3.
Goals from Nikhil Kadam (54′) and Akram Moghrabi (76′) sandwiched a strike from Osagie Monday(74′) to secure all three points from their final outing in Goa to keep hounding Minerva Punjab FC, NEROCA FC and East Bengal.
The result means Churchill Brothers have to win their final game against Minerva Punjab FC to stave off the relegation. They are in the ninth place now with 17 points and trail Chennai City FC by two points.
As for Mohun Bagan, the win sees them move above East Bengal into the third spot with thirty points with one game left.
Going into the game, Churchill Brothers had a forced change as injured Wayne Vaz was replaced by P.M. Britto. Mohun Bagan had two changes from their match against Indian Arrows at the same venue. Gurjinder Kumar who had impressed in that game was given a start in place of Ricky Lallawmawma and skipper Kinshuk Debnath was restored into the heart of the defence with Rana Gharami taken off.
With the result of the game having a major of bearing on both teams, it was Mohun Bagan who had the first sight of goal.
Moghrabi tried a cheeky back-heel which didn’t come off in the 10th minute. Churchill Brothers had the bulk of possession and dominated the half but Mohun Bagan held on as first-half ended 0-0.
Churchill Brothers breached the Mohun Bagan defence once in the first-half but the official cancelled the same because of a foul by Francis on Kingshuk Debnath.
All the action was reserved for the second half. At the onset of the second half, Churchill Brothers continued from where they left. They laid siege to the Mohun Bagan defence, however, Mohun Bagan hit them on the counter and scored in the 54th minute. Dipanda Dicka was picked on the right channel with a ball from the middle. Osagia Monday tried to close him down while Eldor Hussein was caught out of position. Dicka capitalised and squared the ball to an unmarked Kadam who drilled the ball into the net.
Churchill Brothers kept fighting and they got the equaliser in the 74th minute. Alfred Fernandes made a bold tactical decision as he brought on central defender Pawan Kumar and pushed Monday into a forward position, and it paid off. Ceesay released substitute Nicholas Fernandes down the left who delivered a low cross into the box and Monday tapped it in to make it all square.
However, Mohun Bagan caught Churchill Brothers off guard to cut short their jubilation within two minutes. Following a melee inside the Churchill Brothers box, substitute Sheikh Faiaz delivered a sumptuous ball to the far post and Lebanese striker Akram Moghrabi headed past Kithan at the near post to make it 2-1 to keep their hunt alive.
In their final fixtures, both teams have away games with Mohun Bagan facing Gokulam Kerala FC on March 6 and Churchill Brothers playing table-toppers Minerva Punjab FC two days later.