The draw has allowed The Mariners to retain their position at the top but only on superior goals.

The highly anticipated Kolkata derby in Calcutta Football League ended with a 2-2 stalemate at the Salt Lake Stadium. Mohun Bagan started the match with full dominance as they opened the scoring through youngster Pintu Mahata. The Mariners even increased the lead in the first half with a similar goal from Ugandan forward Henry Kisekka. The Red and Gold Brigade clawed their way back in the game with Johnny Acosta’s dying minute goal in the first half and second-half equaliser from Laldanmawia.

Head coach Bastob Roy when asked about the turning point of the match he said, “We could have won the game, the way we came back in the second half anything was possible in the match.”

He added, “Both Kassim Aidara and Kamalpreet Singh were too deep in the first half and that’s where we suffered. Lalrindika Ralte’s change freed Mahmoud Al Amnah a lot more as Ralte provided the much-needed support to Amnah which resulted in our second half dominance.”

Roy was confident that the way his team played in the second half, he thought they could have taken all three points from the high voltage fixture. when asked about Johnny Acosta, the gaffer said his first match in India was the Derby and with time he will get even better.

Although Bastob Roy is the head coach of the Red and Golds we have often seen that the crucial decisions are taken by Technical director Subhas Bhowmick and now with the club signing a high profile coach as in Alejandro Menedez, Roy was asked about the person in charge of his side. The former ATK youth coach tactfully gave a diplomatic answer, “East Bengal is not controlled by one person, all the staff that are working for the welfare of the team, are in control. Starting with the Technical Director, Assistant coaches, physiotherapist, etc.”

He further claimed that he has not met the future East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez, who has actually landed in the City of Joy and was also present in the stadium.

Sankarlal Chakraborty was definitely disappointed with the result as his side was on top but they simply gave away the lead from two defensive lapses in the penalty area. When the Bagan gaffer was quizzed about the turning point of the match, he said, “The goal we conceded right at the dying moment in the first half, gave East Bengal valuable confidence and momentum to carry forward in the second half. We could have won the game if we haven’t conceded in the first half. That goal gave them confidence that they can come back in the second half, and they did.”

Chakraborty was also asked about ‘Man of the match’ Pintu Mahata’s performance in the high voltage fixture and he jokingly said, “The way he is playing this season, he will be snapped up by an Indian Super League side next year.” The manager also agreed that his side has been struggling in set-pieces defensively. He told that our defence needs to improve and we will definitely work on our set pieces as even against Rainbow, the Mariners were vulnerable while defending set pieces.

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The Mariners’ coach also spoke about the mental condition of the players, as the side is full of youngsters and after dominating the match in the first half and being 2-0 up they blew away the lead. According to the gaffer, this may have had some effect on the players and he would talk to them in future practice sessions.

Both the legacy clubs are in a similar position as both of them are right at the top with equal points and goal difference but the Mariners edge their arch-rivals on more goals scored. When the manager was asked about this he quipped, “Look I don’t care about the equations, I have three matches left in the Calcutta Football League and I want to win all of them. After that, I will look at what the future holds for Mohun Bagan.” He even expressed his wish to IFA to arrange a similar timing fixture for both the clubs in the final matchday. 

Chakroborty was definitely a tad disappointed as the Mariners could have bagged all three points but he also has faith in his side looking at the remaining fixtures, it is going go right down to the wire. It is a battle till the finishing line for both the clubs now as the fight for the CFL title intensifies.