The Red and Gold Brigade will be going into the Kolkata Derby filled with confidence.
East Bengal came from behind to record a thrilling 2-1 win over George Telegraph in their Calcutta Football League encounter on Wednesday. After Justice Morgan had given the visitors the lead, Bengal rallied back with goals from Mehtab Singh and a last-minute winner from captain Koushik Sarkar, helping them head into the Kolkata Derby with utmost confidence.
Jonny Acosta might’ve officially become an East Bengal player on the day, but he was not part of the squad, as the Red and Gold wanted to keep their star signing reserved for Sunday. Sarkar got to start as captain, replacing Samad Ali Mallick, while Lalrindika and Laldanmawia Ralte also earned starts ahead of Brandon Vanlalremdika and Kamalpreet Singh.
Despite the rainy conditions, East Bengal got off to a lightning start and lodged some electric attacks early on. But, the hosts were struggling to create clear, goalscoring chances because of Telegraph’s rigid defensive shape.
The Red and Gold Brigaders created a good chance in the 20th minute, with Mahmoud Al Annah’s free-kick zipping just wide of the target. Three minutes later, a terrific ball into the box by Lalramchullova almost found Laldanmawia free in the box, but unluckily for the winger, the ball was inches away from his grasp. Bengal created another great move in the 28th minute, when Lalrindika Ralte’s terrific pass sent Mehtab through on goal, but Telegraph’s keeper Bubai Singha did well to deny him with a solid save.
The hosts were threatening with set-pieces and in the 32nd minute, a corner wasn’t cleared well by Telegraph, allowing the rebound to fall to Ralte, whose curling attempt went brazing past goal. The visitors were being extremely resilient and were able to soak in the pressure really well. But, a lapse in concentration almost cost Telegraph in the 43rd minute, when Singha failed to hold onto Dicka’s shot from long range. He allowed Jobby Justin to steal it, but the striker laid it outside the box for Lalramchullova to hit a powerful shot that sailed just above the top bar.
Bengal started the second half positively and created a chance early on in the 48th minute, when a cross from the right found Kassim Aidara’s header, which was comfortably collected by Singha. Brandon’s introduction after halftime added some pace and trickery to the hosts’ wings, but they were being too sloppy with their attacking moves.
But, the introduction of Brandon proved vital, as the winger went on a stunning run through the middle in the 61st minute, going past many midfielders before feeding Justin, whose well-placed shot unluckily struck the post and went out. East Bengal were mounting the pressure and Lalramchullova took another thunderous shot on goal in the 68th minute, which was again parried by Singha. Amnah found the rebound, but was judged offside.
The hosts were in for a shock, as Morgan showed some brilliant skills a minute later and skipped past Kingshuk Debnath, before letting rip a thunderous shot which sailed into the net, giving the visitors a shock lead and making Bengal concede their first goal of the CFL season.
The Red and Gold seemed rattled by the goal and went surging forward looking for a reply. In the 72nd minute, Mehtab barely managed to recover the ball on the right wing and sent in a low cross which found Debnath, whose shot went sailing over. A minute later, Amnah found himself free inside the box, but Telegraph’s defenders did well to block his shot.
The hosts pegged on and were rewarded for their efforts in the 75th minute, when Amnah’s terrific cross into the box met Mehtab’s glancing header, which equalized things for the hosts. East Bengal were energized by that and went thundering forward for another goal, as they created another chance in the 82nd minute when, Aidara’s shot forced a superb save from Singha.
The Red and Gold Brigade created another chance in added-time through Bidyasagar Singh, when the substitute took a shot which was scuffled by Singha. Amnah got himself onto the rebound, but his following shot was saved by the keeper. Hoever, the hosts showed extreme determination and got the winner in the dying moments through a thunderous long-range effort from Sarkar, which rolled into goal after Sigha failed to hold onto it.
This amazing comeback win gives East Bengal all the confidence in the world heading into the Kolkata Derby, which they’ll want to win, having failed to do so in the last seven meetings.