Mohun Bagan holds East Bengal in the Kolkata Derby

Sanjoy Sen made a solitary change from the side that triumphed against Salgaocar with Sony Norde making way for Balwant Singh into the lineup. Katsumi Yusa was on the other flank with Azharuddin Mullick and Cornell Glen upfront.

Biswajit Bhattacharya made four changes from the side that drew against Mumbai with Harmanjot Singh Khabra out injured. Do Dong Hyun started up front beside Ranti Martins with Mohammed Rafique and Mehtab Hossein marshaling the midfield. Rahul Bheke and Saumik Dey started in the full back positions while Abinash Ruidas was on the right wing.

It was the Red and Golds only as we kicked off the proceedings with Bhattacharya’s men playing neat passes among themselves leaving the Mohun Bagan midfield in splits.

While Bikash Jairu was running riot down the left wing, leaving Pritam Kotal flustered all throughout, it was the Mariners who had the first real chance of the match. Sony Norde was played on by Pronay Halder down the left into acres of space in the 12th minute but Arnab Mondal was at hand to clear before Cornell could get on the end of it.

Sanjoy Sen decided to introduce Balwant Singh into the proceedings as the U-22 player, Azharuddin Mullick was sacrificed.

It was Kingfisher East Bengal who came close about four minutes later when Bikash Jairu won a corner for his side. Mehtab’s corner could only be headed straight to Debjit in goal, by Arnab.

On the counter, it was Norde again who ran into empty space down the left but he chose to slide it infield to Balwant Singh who managed to ping a shot straight to the grateful hands of TP Rehenesh from about 30 yards out.

While East Bengal played the better football throughout, chances came at a premium. In spite of Jairu’s tireless running down the left, the lack of options in attack meant no one was at the end of his deliveries.

The last couple of chances came at the fag end of the half, first with Sony Norde finding Cornell Glen inside the box whose header was straight to Rehenesh. This was followed up by Abinash Ruidas putting in a lovely ball to an empty Do Dong whose angled header beat both Debjit and the post, being inches wide.

Five minutes after the second half was underway, Mohun Bagan almost opened the scoring after Katsumi Yusa played a lovely through ball to send Cornell on the way but the Trinidad man’s shot across the face of the goal was kept out by Rehenesh.

On the counter Do Dong managed to run at pace at the Mohun Bagan defence who kept on backing way. His shot from inside the box was  somehow acrobatically parried away by Debjit who kept his side in the game.

It was finally three minutes after the hour mark that Biswajit Bhattacharya’s men broke the deadlock. It was that man, Bikash Jairu who made one of his darting runs down the left, that he had been doing throughout the match and put in a perfect ball to Ranti Martins who was in all kinds of space. The Nigerian wasted no time and effortlessly volleyed it towards goal past a hapless Debjit.

After Luciano brought down Dong in the 73rd minute just some yards outside the box, Ranti Martins’ free kick towards the far post was somehow kept out by Debjit at full stretch.

However, it was Cornell Glen who leveled the proceedings in the 77th minute. It all came about following a Saumik Dey foul on Katsumi down the left. Sony Norde’s delivery was pinpoint as Glen powered a header that bulged the back of the net, inspite of Rehenesh getting a touch.

Dong came close to recovering East Bengal’s lead in the 84th minute as his freekick was just over but it was Mohun Bagan who had the best chance to win the derby in injury time.

The newly introduced Jeje Lalpekhlua drifted in a lovely weighted ball from the right which Cornell could only head straight to Rehenesh, with the entire goal staring at him. Fortunately, Rahul Bheke was at hand to clear the rebound as Sony Norde was lurking.

The season’s first Kolkata Derby ended up in a stalemate even though East Bengal played the better football over ninety minutes.

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