Sankarlal Chakraborty and his men are in pole position ahead of the mega Kolkata Derby this Sunday.
Mohun Bagan took on Techno Aryans Football Club in the 7th round of the Calcutta Football League at the Kalyani Stadium. In front of a vociferous crowd, the Mariners beat the Aryans 2-0, thanks to goals from Shilton D’Silva and Asier Dipanda Dika.
Sankarlal Chakraborty, the Mohun Bagan coach picked a 4-4-2 formation to start with. Henry Kisekka and Asier Dipenda Dika started upfront, with Britton PM and Pintu Mahata on the wings. The central midfield consisted of Shilton D’Silva and Sourav Das, while the defense was made up of Eze Kingsley, Arijit Bagui, Gurjinder Kumar and Abhishek Ambekar.
The game started with Bagan making the right moves. A blazing shot from Abhishek Ambekar was saved in the opening minutes. It woke the opposition up and they started gaining a foothold in the game in the next few minutes. However, that did not last for long as Shilton D’Silva gave the Mariners the lead in the eighth minute, through a well-worked corner. Kisekka cushioned the ball for Shilton from an Arijit Bagui corner, who easily tapped it in beyond the flailing arms of goalkeeper Souvik Santra. Against the run of play, Bagan had the lead within the first ten minutes.
The goal provided them with the momentum they needed and they seized control of the game. Pintu and Britto were both excellent with their movement and repeatedly caused trouble for the opposition. The tethering Aryan defense somehow repelled those attacks. Dipanda Dika, who scored a hat-trick in the last game against West Bengal Police, tried a sensational overhead-kick from a Kisekka cross, but it flew inches over the crossbar. The score still read 1-0.
Despite controlling the game’s tempo, the Mariners were unable to translate that into more goals. Sourav was exceptionally good in midfield, while Kisekka masterminded almost every attack. However, the final pass kept letting Bagan down. The Aryans made the occasional foray into the Mariners’ box, but brave defending from Eze Kingsley helped his team to retain the lead.
Following the lack of precision in the final third, the Aryans tried to impose themselves as the half progressed. They had three corners in a row, but none of them really worried Paul, the Bagan goalkeeper. In the dying minutes of the half, several Mohun Bagan players including Britto and Saurav tried long-distance shots, but they flew high and wide over the bar. The Mariners went into halftime with a slender, but well-deserved lead.
In the second half, they came flying out of the box. Dipanda Dika scuffed a one-on-one chance, while Kisekka’s chipped shot was cleared off the goal-line by Sujoy, the Aryan defender, all within the first five minutes. Both the Bagan forwards tried to combine once again a few minutes later, but the move was broken down in midfield.
After that, the game settled down into a cagey affair in the middle of the park. The Aryan defense showed a lot of spirit, with the likes of Rahul, Suvankar and Sujoy all catching the eye. In the 65th minute, manager Chakraborty bought on veteran midfielder Mehtab Hossain in place of D’Silva and the Mariners sprang into life soon after.
Five minutes later, it was Azharuddin Mallick who was bought on for Britto and Bagan finally had the venom they needed to push for the second goal. It came in the form of a Dipanda Dika header in the 84th minute, as a Arijit Bagui through ball found Kisekka in acres of space. The Ugandan placed a beautiful cross for Dika to head in. With seven goals in as many games, the Cameroonian is on his way to win the Golden Boot once again.
After the goal, the spirit of the Aryan team broke down. Suvankar picked up a yellow card in the 89th minute. Dika was taken off for Abinas Ruidas by then, but Kisekka had two more golden opportunities to get a goal for himself, but he fluffed his lines on both occasions. The game ended 2-0 in favour of Mohun Bagan, much to the delight of thousands of their travelling fans.
Bagan now have 19 points from seven games and are in pole position ahead of the mega Kolkata Derby this Sunday. Their forwards look lethal and the defense is much stronger than before. East Bengal will have their work cut out for them if they want to beat their fierce rivals to seal a ninth successive CFL title.