The Mariners will meet arch-rivals East Bengal in the showpiece on Thursday.
Mohun Bagan edged SAIL Burnpur 2-1 in their IFA Shield semi-final match played at the Mohun Bagan Ground on Tuesday. Subha Ghosh and Sourav Das scored for the Mariners, who despite being put under some heavy pressure by the resurgent SAIL, managed to grind their way into the final, where they will meet rivals East Bengal.
The game got off to a flying start with SAIL attacking from the getgo and created some promising chances early on. Avijit Mondal’s dangerous free-kick in the second minute tested the Mariners defense, while a crafty shot from Sk Mohammad a minute later, breezed past the goal. SAIL were giving Bagan a run for their money and created another chance n the 12th minute, when Souvik Ghosal’s dipping shot was tipped onto the post and over by Asanja Daimary.
Despite looking poor early on, Bagan’s set-piece threat proved fortuitous in the 21st minute when a free-kick wasn’t dealt that properly by SAIL and winger Sourav Das easily tucked home from a yard out to give his side the lead. SAIL didn’t let that faze them though and came back with a vengeance, mounting a dangerous attack two minutes later, which fell for Rahul Mondal to expertly finish and put things level once again.
Sourav Das looked menacing on the day and in the 34th minute, he went on a blazing run on the right, before playing an inch-perfect ball to Subha Ghosh inside the box, but despite being unmarked, the striker terribly missed from close range. Das created another chance five minutes later by breaking free on the right and sought out a clever pass to Pulak Baruah, whose grounded shot was well saved by SAIL’s Kishan Singh.
There was some controversy in the 44th minute when another one of Bagan’s set-pieces fell to Ghosh, whose shot was initially saved by Singh, but the attempt off the rebound hit the underside of the bar and was cleared off the line.
The ball looked to have gone in, but the lack of goal-line technology kept the game level. SAIL created a chance in the dying minutes of the half, when Ghosal’s long-range effort whiskered just over the post. Another opportunity was created by the Mariners in first half added-time, when a counter-attack saw Kousik Santra lay off a beautiful pass to Ghosh, who again failed to beat Singh from close range.
The Mariners started the second half positively and in the 50th minute, another dangerous set-piece found the head of Santra, whose attempt was barely cleared out of danger by SAIL. Bagan scuffed another chance in the 59th minute when a lobbed pass sent Ghosh through on goal, but he passed it to Ratan Das, whose corresponding shot was an extremely agonizing one. Both sides were finding it extremely difficult to unlock each other’s defenses and the gameplay became quite sloppy due to the difficult conditions.
After being frustrated by SAIL for a long period of time, The Mariners finally created a chance in the 83rd minute, when an impressive pass found Samar Kumir outside the box. The midfielder took a powerful shot which was kept out by Singh, but fell right into the path of Ghosh, who did not miss this time and cleverly put his side back into the lead. Bagan almost put the game to bed three minutes later, when a counter-attack resulted in Santra being set free inside the box, but his shot was barely kept out by Singh and Co.
Bagan managed to hold on to the lead till the end and record a well-fought victory in the end. They will face arch-rivals East Bengal in the 122nd IFA Shield Final on Thursday, in what is assured to be a spicy Kolkata Derby between the youth teams.