Coach Sankarlal Chakraborty changed his formation to a more traditional style than in the previous few fixtures.
Mohun Bagan were held by Peerless SC to a 1-1 draw in dramatic fashion in their Calcutta Football League match played at the Mohun Bagan Ground on Thursday. Despite taking the lead through Henry Kisekka in the 73rd minute, a late equalizer from former Bagan man Ansumana Kromah, allowed the visitors to steal a point and make Bagan slip up in the CFL title race.
Sankarlal Chakraborty changed his formation to suit a more traditional 4-4-2 style, rather than the 3-5-2 he was tinkering with over the last few games. Basant Singh and Azharuddin Mallick returned to the starting lineup, while former Bagan midfielder Kromah hoped to haunt his former employers. The Mariners started the game positively, with a curling free-kick from Arijit Bagui finding a powerful header from Shilton D’Silva, which went straight at Peerless keeper Sandip Kumar Pal.
Peerless, who had not conceded a single goal prior to their match against the Mariners, were proving their defensive strength as Dalraj Singh and Chika Wali were helping to contain the Mariners’ attacking threat really well. But, the bright Mallick was creating all the problems for Peerless and in the 25th minute, he laid up a terrific pass to Asier Dipanda Dicka, who laid it on for Kisekka to hit the side-netting with his shot. Two minutes later, Bagui’s terrific long ball found Dicka on the wing and the Cameroonian again played a cross which fooled Wali and fell to Henry, who shockingly scuffed his shot wide from close range.
The visitors couldn’t create a single chance on goal in the first half an hour and despite many attempts from Kromah, who was being clever with the ball, Peerless just couldn’t manage to break open Bagan’s rigid defense. Dicka was the brightest attacker for Bagan in the first half, as he played in a deeper role overseeing proceedings and the striker got his chance to score in the 41st minute, but his shot from inside the box was saved. The Bagan #9 got another opportunity to open his account two minutes later, when a fantastic cross from early substitute Tirthankar Sarkar found his header, which Pal commendably held onto.
After being unable to score in the first half for the fourth game running, the Mariners started the scond 45 in electrifying fashion. Kisekka got an early chance when his powerful shot from outside the box went sailing wide in the 46th minute. The forward got another opportunity to score in the 53rd minute, when Mallick’s cross found him, but his free header went sailing over. Peerless created a rare chance in the 66th minute, when a terrific pass from Kromah found Nuruddin free inside the box, but the winger’s impressive goal was ruled offside.
But, just when Peerless were gaining control in the game, the Mariners showed impressive persistence and got their goal in the 73rd minute. A terrific move and cross from Abhishek Ambekar found Kisekka on the far post and the Ugandan’s determination for a goal paid off as he comfortably headed in to put his side ahead. The striker looked to have gained some much-needed confidence from the goal and was hungry for more, as he used his strength to win back the ball in the 83rd minute and his powerful shot forced a great save from Pal.
The Mariners had a chance to put the game to bed in the 89th minute when a inch-perfect pass from Kisekka put Mallick through on goal, but his ambitious chipped shot could only hit the side-netting. But, just when it seemed that the game was won by Bagan, Peerless showed amazing resilience and got a shocking equalizer in added time.
Some defensive lapses from Bagan allowed Dipankar Das’ weak ball to reach Kromah, who expertly went past Kingsley and scored a dramatic equalizing goal, which helped Peerless earn a crucial point. That late goal was a rude awakening for Bagan, who despite retaining their top spot have given a chance to rivals East Bengal to go over them in the CFL table by dropping crucial points.