The Mariners finished as the leaders of Group B.
Mohun Bagan continued their dominant run in the 122nd IFA Shield with a resounding 2-0 win over Tata Football Academy at the Howrah Stadium on Thursday. Goals from Deep Saha and Akshunna Tyagi were enough for the Mariners to win Group B and book their semi-finals place against SAIL Burnpur.
Both teams had alresdy qualified for the semi-finals, thanks to some amazing performances against Churchill Brothers and Bengal Football Academy earlier on in the group stages and were playing to determine the group leaders. The Mariners started off with a bang and after intense early pressure, striker Saha was sent through on goal with a clever through-ball in the sixth minute and coolly tucked the ball into the back of the net to give his side the lead. TFA received their first real chance three minutes later, when Gaurab’s free-kick sailed just over the target.
Bagan created another big chance in the 18th minute through a corner, when Lalthankhuma’s header was cleared off the line by a TFA defender and collected by goalkeeper Raj Mahato. TFA were unable to cope with the Mariners’ set-piece pressure and allowed them to create another chance in the 24th minute, when Asif Ali Molla’s powerful header went blazing over.
The Mariners created another chance two minutes later through a terrific move on the left flank and Mahato’s failure to deal with the cross helped the ball fall to Subha Ghosh, who shockingly put it onto the rafters. Bagsn captain Sourav Das found some space to roam on the right wing in the 31st minute and drifted into the box, but his shot from a tight angle went well past the goal. TFA looked quite toothless in attack and despite winger Dipak Rajak looking dangerous on some occasions, just couldn’t come up with the final product.
TFA’s defense was having problems dealing with Bagan’s wingers and again in the 36th minute, a terrific pass found Sourav Das inside the box, but his shot could only hit the side-netting. TFA created a slight chance late into the half, when one of their corners met the head of a player, but the attempt ended up going way off target.
The second half started in a much more cagey fashion, with TFA having tightened up their defense to make sure the Mariners don’t get much freedom in attack. TFA were the ones dominating in the second half, but because of both teams being rigid defensively, no big chances could be created in the first period of the half. However, the Mariners finally created a chance in the 64th minute, when Deep Saha tricked a few defenders before taking a shot which was comfortably saved by Mahato.
The Mariners managed to conjure up a few decent counter-attacks, with one, in particular, seeing Kousik Santra blazing through on goal. But, his horrible pass wasted a golden opportunity for them to seal the game. Bagan produced another great move in the 76th minute when Lalthankhuma stole the ball and sent Ghosh through on goal, but the striker terribly scuffled his shot from a few yards out. TFA received a promising free-kick two minutes later, but Manisana’s shot went sailing just over the target.
Bagan had another opportunity to seal the deal in the 87th minute when another dangerous corner found the head of a player, but the attempt was cleared a few yards out from goal. A minute later, they created another stunning move through the left and a cross found Ghosh in the box, but his header sailed just over the bar.
The Mariners finally sealed the game in the 89th minute, when a darting counter-attack saw two substitutes combine as Pulak Baruati laid it off for Tyagi to finish from close range. The win means that Mohun Bagan will face SAIL Football Academy in the semi-finals, while TFA will have to battle it out against the dangerous East Bengal next week.