Mohun Bagan continued their winning spree in the Calcutta League when they beat tenacious Mohammedan AC by a solitary goal earlier today at
home. It was a hard earned victory, with Chidi Edeh scoring the winner with about five minutes remaining of normal time. With this, Mohun Bagan have now won all six matches in their current campaign, this being their fourth 1-0 win. Chidi has now scored in the last five
Calcutta League matches, including single goals in the last three 1-0 victories. The importance of this player in this regard cannot be overstated.
Mohammedan AC themselves were unbeaten in their previous five matches, and put up a spirited display in order to maintain that record. And they almost succeeded in holding the home team at bay. Though their attacks were few and far between, their midfield and defence toiled tirelessly. With a bit of luck and a bit of gamesmanship, they frustrated Mohun Bagan’s efforts for almost the entire length of the match, only to be beaten in the end by the juggernaut that Chidi is proving to be this season.
Mohun Bagan, for whom coach Karim Bencharifa was at the helm again after his brief sojourn to Singapore, went into the game with virtually the same starting line-up from their previous encounter, with the only change being Subho Kumar’s inclusion in place of Mickey Fernandes in midfield. Right from the start the home team went on the offensive, forcing a corner and a free-kick just outside the Mohammedan AC box within the first five minutes, but nothing much came off those. Then in the tenth fullback Biswajit Saha crossed the ball dangerously from the left, but Chidi was foiled by an alert Mohammedan defender.
The game drifted somewhat thereafter. Already the Mohammedan players started wasting time at every given opportunity, and weak refereeing encouraged them even further, with their keeper (former Mohun Bagan reserve Raju Ekka) once taking almost three minutes to take a goal kick! Then in the 18th minute another fine cross from the constantly overlapping Biswajit found central defender Sagram Mandi in the box, but his firm header was well saved by Ekka. Five minutes later Soubhik Chakraborty dribbled his way into the Mohammedan box and was apparently tripped therein, but the referee didn’t acknowledge the appeals for a penalty.
In the 27th minute, a Subho Kumar free-kick found Chidi but the Nigerian headed wide. Three minutes later Subho sent in a teasing corner kick from the right, Ryuji Suoeka rose and headed superbly, but the ball hit the cross bar! Off the rebound Sheikh Azim hit a pile- driver, but it went well over the bar. A couple of minutes later Suoeka sprinted after a Chidi through and scored, but the goal was disallowed for off-side! Then in the 40th minute, another Subho Kumar corner from the right was well headed by Chidi, only to hit the cross- piece. The goal simply refused to come! And to compound Bagan’s troubles, Soubhik was booked for no apparent reason two minutes from half-time. He’ll now miss Bagan’s next Calcutta league match. The teams went into half-time at 0-0 – this was the first time in six matches this season that Bagan failed to score in the first half.
The second half started like the first, with Mohun Bagan putting on the pressure, but with Tomba Singh having a rare off-day, and with Ishfaq Ahmed proving ineffective, the attacks were just not penetrative enough to beat the hard-working Mohammedan defence. Three minutes into the half Chidi did slip in a delicious chipped pass for Ishfaq, but the latter failed to beat the keeper. In the 55th minute Ishfaq was brought down outside the box. Suoeka took the resultant free-kick, and found Ishfaq, but he headed it wide. Four minutes later, another Suoeka free-kick found Chidi, but again the header was too weak to beat Ekka. In the 62nd minute Ishfaq sent in a splendid cross from the left, but Chidi for once failed to reach the ball.
Twenty minutes into the 2nd half Mohun Bagan made two changes, with Branco Cardozo coming in for Ishfaq and Snehasish Chakraborty for Subho Kumar. Within minutes Branco tried a back-volley to a cross from the left but misconnected. Then Suoeka was fouled inches outside the Mohammedan box, but the resultant free-kick, taken by the Japanese himself, was fruitless. A minute later Tomba crossed superbly from the right, but Chidi headed wide from close! This was probably the easiest chance of the day.
Bagan kept up the pressure relentlessly. With about 15 minutes to go, Snehasish sent in a good cross from the left, but this time Branco’s header hit the outside of the left post and went out. Then Tomba put in another cross from the right, but Branco failed to direct his header goalwards. Then in the 80th minute a Snehasish cross produced astrong header from Chidi, but Ekka saved well.
With 8 minutes to go, young Subhojit Majumdar replaced Soubhik and made a couple of strong runs down the right flank, but his efforts came to nought. Then in the 86th minute a free-kick was floated into the Mohammedan box and was deflected towards the goal. Both Suoeka and Ekka went for the ball, but the keeper only managed to slap it away in front of an onrushing Chidi, who blasted the ball in from close with glee! At last the deadlock was broken, and who else but Mohun Bagan’s goal machine to break it! (1-0). This was Chidi’s 7th league goal of the season, in six games!
There was hardly any action of note for the rest of the game, including 4 minutes of added time, though Mohammedan did make some effort to equalise. However, Zenith, Sagram, Azim and Biswajit held firm and easily foiled their bids, as they had done throughout the match, whenever called upon to do so. Behind them, Shilton too seemed efficient and confident.
The game ended with Mohun Bagan firmly on top of the table with 18 points from 6 games, 5 points ahead of 2nd placed Chirag United, who have a game in hand. Chidi was named the Man-of-the-Match.
Team: Shilton Paul; Zenith Mashangwa, Sagram Mandi, Sheikh Azim, Biswajit Saha; Tomba Singh, Subho Kumar (Snehasish Chakraborty), Soubhik Chakraborty (Subhojit Majumdar), Ishfaq Ahmed (Branco Cardozo); Ryuji Suoeka, Chidi Edeh.
Scorer: Chidi Edeh.
Man-of-the-Match: Chidi Edeh.