West Bengal down Chandigarh in Santosh Trophy opener
Written by: Ravish R Narvekar
Bengal coach praised his team after the first win. . .
Faizal came off the bench to score the winner in the last minute for Bengal as they registered a hard fought 1-0 win over Chandigarh in the 71st Santosh Trophy final round played at Navelim Ground earlier today.
Chandigarh came into this match with straight three wins in the North Zone qualifiers. They had defeated Himachal Pradesh 4-1, edged out Delhi 1-0 and squeezed past Uttar Pradesh 4-3 in the last qualifier match. While Bengal also made their way into the final round from East zone with wins over Chhattisgarh and Orissa.
Chandigarh coach Mukesh made one change to his side from the qualifiers as Gagandeep Singh made way for Arshdeep Singh. Meanwhile, Bengal coach Mridul Banerjee chose to go with same starting Xi which earned him full points against Chhattisgarh in the qualifier match.
The match started with attacking football from both sides but as it progressed Bengal were the dominant team in the major parts of the game. However, both teams did not look at the goalpost in the first 25 minutes. In between these, Bengal had a golden opportunity to take an early lead when Debasis Pradshan sent a perfect cross in the box but first, Shaikhom Singh and later Mumtaz Aktar failed to connect from the close distance.
A few minutes later, Chandigarh keeper Harprital Singh made a mistake in the box as he handled the back pass from his teammate. Referee Crystal John quickly gave away indirect free-kick in the box. However, Chandigarh shot-stopper excellently blocked Akhtar’s goalbound free-kick.
In the dying minutes of the first session, Bengal’s Shaikhom came up with two brilliant crosses from the flank but first, Chandigarh keeper Harprital collected it on time before forward Moirangthem Singh could rich to it. Later, Manvir Singh missed the best chance of the match to take Bengal into the lead as he failed to connect from close off Shaikhom’s pin-point accurate cross in the box.
Bengal players came out stronger in the second half as with first five minutes; the eastern state came up with three goal-bounds shots on the opponents. Chandigarh replied them with a quick counter attack, but Arshdeep shot wide from the top of the box.
At the hour mark, Bengal’s Samad Mallick found Manvir in the box with a curling cross from the right flank but the striker’s header missed the target narrowly. Samad was once again in action when he again brilliantly curled 30-yard free-kick in the box, but like last time Manvir again missed the target.
In the last ten minutes, the match witnessed rough game from both the teams as the referee Crystal booked four players to control the situations.
As the match was heading towards a nil-nil draw, Substitute SK. Faiaz scored the winner for Bengal in the 90th minutes when his teammate Sannik Murmu took advantage of Chandigarh midfielder’s mistake and quickly passed to the striker who covered some ground and calmly placed the ball into the back of the net.
Bengal coach Banerjee was happy after the full-time whistle and said “this was the first match and the first match is always tough but we managed to come out victorious. I am very happy with the performance of my boys.”
Published: Sun Mar 12, 2017 08:37 PM IST