Mohammedan Sporting Club edged past Army Red 2-1 in their quaterfinal clash of the 39th Sikkim Governor’s Gold Cup on Friday at the Paljor Stadium in Gangtok.
Sarba Camara (6th) and Tirthankar Sarkar (41st) were on target for the Black Panthers before Jain P. (83rd) pulled a goal back for Army Red.
Mohammedan SC started the match with more purpose as they threw everything they had to impose their will on their opponents during the early exchanges.
And their efforts were soon rewarded in the 6th minute when Camara sent in a thundering header into the net from a low cross by Prosenjit Paul from the right wing.
Encouraged by their start, Saheed Ramon’s charges piled on the pressure only to be denied by Army goalkeeper Mohamed Shanoos, who produced a string of brilliant saves to keep his side in the match.
That’s not to say Army didn’t have their chances. There were several occasions when they broke past the Mohammedan SC back-line and threatened 1v1 with goalkeeper Priyant Singh, however were failed to be as lethal as they needed to be in front of goal.
Inevitably, failing to convert their chances came back to haunt Army as Mohammedan SC doubled their lead in the 41st minute when Camara fed debutante Sujoy Dutta, who easily outpaced Alwin E and passed to the unmarked Tirthankar, who calmly slotted home.
Mohammedan SC’s spirits were lifted by the goal and they played out the final moments of the first-half with a lot of energy, which they brought with them when they returned from the break.
The Black Panthers continued with that momentum as they came out for the second-half and forced Shanoos into making a number of goal-denying saves.
Nonetheless, the lack of finishing in the attacking third and outstanding defending from Army meant Mohammedan SC could not find a goal as reward for their early dominance.
Despite a wave of attacks by the Black Panthers, Army have kept their shape and structure to limit the damage before Jain P struck a thunderous volley to half the deficit in the 83rd minute.
The match started to become a little tenser as the clock counted down with Army showing great determination in their pursuit of an equalizer, while Mohammedan SC remained solid at the back.
Army, to their credit, never gave up but it appeared as if getting on the score sheet just wasn’t to be for the side today with every shot went anywhere but on target as Mohammedan SC held on on for a well-deserved win.
“We always think of winning whatever game we are going into. I wished to play a better game especially in the second-half, but we were facing a very strong team in Army. They were very dangerous especially in the second-half. You have to keep in mind that we playing our first game in such high altitude and cold weather also did not helped our cause but we are happy to win such a tough game,” said Technical Director Dipendu Biswas.
The Black Panthers will face Sikkim Police in the semifinal on Sunday.
(Mohammedan Sporting Club)