KOLKATA: Mohun Bagan could only get away with a point against Indian Arrows in the first-ever I-League fixture at their club ground in the 2017/18 I-League in Kolkata on Friday.
Aser Pierrick Dipanda Dicka scored from the spot in the 27th minute but Rahul Kannoly Balan equalised in the 33rd minute. Indian Arrows skipper Amarjit Singh Kiyam was expelled in the 65th minute but Mohun Bagan were unable to take advantage of the numerical advantage thereafter.
Eze Kingsley made his comeback from a one-game suspension as Rana Gharami, who won the ‘Hero of the Match’ award in the goalless draw with NEROCA was relegated to the bench. Talisman Sony Norde could only sit in the director’s box owing to his prolonged injury as Nikhil Kadam got another start of the season.
For the Indian Arrows, overjoyed with their 3-0 win over Shillong Lajong, Luis Norton de Matos made two changes to his lineup. After his wondrous goal, Nongdamba Naorem forced his way into the first eleven. Rahul Kannoly Praveen replaced Abhijit Sarkar on the flank with local boy Rahim Ali leading the line.
Right after the historic kickoff on the iconic Maidan ground, it was actually the youngsters who pressed hard despite the stiff resistance and the poor ground conditions. The hosts had two chances in the first twenty minutes which Ansumana Kromah failed to convert, the latter which he missed inside the box with only the keeper to beat.
However, the deadlock was broken by the Green and Maroon, only through a spot-kick. Nikhil Kadam was brought down by Ashish Rai inside the box in the 25th minute and Aser Pierrick Dipanda converted duly.
But, that was ruled out as a Mohun Bagan player had entered the box prematurely. The Cameroonian made no mistake on the second chance as the crowd was sent into a tizzy.
While Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Jeakson Singh made life tough from the centre of the park, Mohun Bagan looked out of shape and were not able to exert themselves on the teenagers.
Past the half-hour mark, Sanjeev Stalin released Rahim Ali on the left flank as the West Bengal-based forward beat Kinshuk Debnath for pace and Rahul Kannoly Praveen, who had changed flanks by then rushed in between the towering Eze Kingsley and Ricky Lallawmamwma to tap home.
Sanjoy Sen held his cards close to his chests as he made no further changes despite his players failing to impress. Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem had to make a double save in the dying moments of the first half as the Arrows held on.
As Nongdamba Naorem was stretchered off owing to an injury, Ninthoinganba Meetei was brought on and skipper Amarjit Singh Kiyam was given his marching orders for two yellow cards within fifteen minutes.
Mohun Bagan looked listless and could not go anywhere near the opposition box to put them in danger. Second half substitute Manandeep Singh’s freak bicycle kick outside the box landed his studs on young Asish Rai and the fullback had to be taken off to the hospital as the Indian Arrows bench feared a concussion.
As the Arrows held on the scoreline, Mohun Bagan now come up to the third spot with ten points from six games while the youngsters rise to the sixth position with seven points from as many games. The Mariners next face Chennai City at home on 2nd January 2018 while the Arrows host East Bengal on the same day in New Delhi.