The visitors were saved multiple times by the heroics of their young goalkeeper.
Mohun Bagan and Gokulam Kerala played out an entertaining 1-1 stalemate in their first I-League match of the new season at the EMS Corporation Stadium on Saturday. After much dominance from Bagan, Henry Kisekka scored against his former side to give the Mariners the lead in the 40th minute. However, the hosts pegged back in the second half and an own goal from Kim Kima helped to earn them a point.
Both sides showed a lot of intent to win and played end-to-end football, but were frustrated not to start their campaigns with a win. The following are our takeaways from the game.
5. Arijit Bagui could be the Mariners secret weapon this season
Arijit Bagui has transcended into an excellent right-back under Sankarlal Chakraborty and become a crucial part of their game. Bagui was extremely sound defensively against Gokulam, but it was his attacking prowess which really impressive. Bagui is arguably the Mariners best crosser at the moment, which was seen when his thunderous free-kick was glanced in by Kisekka.
The right-back can cross equally well with both his feet, which makes him an asset for Bagan. Bagui was a lively figure for the Mariners throughout the game and ventured forward all the time in looks of creating something. Despite his defensive nature, he was probably Bagan’s best attacker on the day and gave his all to try and earn all three points.
4. Bino George’s Substitutions Works To Perfection
Gokulam Kerala got completely outplayed by Mohun Bagan in the first half, forcing Bino George to change up his tactics in the second. He brought in Rajesh, who made a huge impact in turning around the game for them. Rajesh’ unrelenting movement in the final third and bullying attitude troubled Mohun Bagan’s defense and it was his menacing nature which resulted in the own-goal.
Pritam Singh was also superb on the right-wing, moving forward with purpose and testing Mohun Bagan’s defence during many occasions. George’s fantastic substitutions brought rewards for Gokulam, who start the season on an encouraging note.
3. Sankar Roy Saves Mohun Bagan’s Blushes
Many were surprised to see Sankar Roy play in the place of the experienced Shilton Paul, but the Mariners goalkeeper definitely proved his potential. Roy was a bit nervous at first and could not punch the ball properly, but the alertness he showed in saving shots was superb.
Roy made some fantastic saves throughout the game, especially to deny German and Rajesh in both halves. Roy was unlucky to concede that kind of a goal, but he definitely upped his stock with a brilliant performance. It was Roy’s heroics that eventually saved Mohun Bagan from a disastrous start to the season and helped them get away with a point.
2. Antonio German Needs Better Service To Flourish At Gokulam
The Gokulam Kerala fans were excited to see Antonio German’s debut for the club, but it was not as memorable as anyone would like for it to be. German soon realized that things will not be easy for him in the I-League and was marked closely by Kingsley Eze. German’s biggest chance was late in the first half when he went clear through on goal but saw his shot expertly saved by Roy.
The former Kerala Blasters player is not getting the service he needs to be lethal in front of goal and keeps coming much deeper than he should. Gokulam needs to feed him more balls into the box and allow him to be the terrorizing finisher he is known to be.
1. Lackluster Finishing Costs Both Teams
It was almost a game of two halves between Gokulam Kerala and Mohun Bagan, but one which was filled with big chances. Mohun Bagan was dominant for much of the game and created many goal-scoring chances. However, they only scored that one and struck the post twice through Pintu Mahata and Omar Elhussieny. The Mariners should have scored from some of the huge chances they got, but disappointing finishing from their attackers cost them.
A similar tale cost Gokulam in the second half. After being gifted an easy equalizer, Gokulam ventured forward with purpose but couldn’t score. Despite good saves from Roy, they should have done better in finishing those chances considering the talent of their attackers. The game could have been a high-scoring one had both sides finished off chances better and gone either way if one been more clinical than the other.