In what was an evenly matches pulsating encounter, the Mariners prevailed eventually as 1-0 winners over Pathachakra FC in the Calcutta Football League 2018 at the Mohun Bagan Ground, in Kolkata.
Henry Kisekka's 76th minute winner gave the Mariners all three points as a resilient Pathachakra returned to the drawing room with no credibility on paper.
Let us look at the most intriguing aspects of the game and analyse the game :
5) Wasteful Forwards
Even though Henry Kisekka, who was signed from Gokulam Kerala earlier this year by Mohun Bagan, scored the solitary goal for the Mariners, his performance in front of goal was far from satisfactory.
Kisekka missed a couple of sitters in the first half, which could have put the game to bed ages ago. The Ugandan hit the post from close range in the second half.
Dismal finishing continued from the other players on the pitch as well. Pintu Mahata skied a good scoring chance while Pathachakra's Somdeep missed a sitter moments before the full-time whistle, which could have brought the game to level terms again.
4) No Impact from Pathachakra's overseas signings
With Dutchman Remco Boere at the helm courtesy Nabab Bhattacharya, Pathachakra were expected to chalk out a well-planned strategy to contain the Mohun Bagan side, especially with Japanese talisman Futa Nakamura and Croatian striker Anto Pejic at his disposal. However, that was not to be the case as the foreigners had little role to play for Pathachakra in the match.
Nakamura seldom got any touches on the ball and was often dispossessed by Lalchawnkima and Amey Ranawade in the middle of the park. Anto Pejic was also pretty wasteful going forward. He skied a golden chance from a set-piece to bring Pathachakra back into the game in the final minutes of the second half.
However, Victor Kamhuka was instrumental to Pathachakra today, in keeping the scoreline to just 0-1 in favour of the Mariners.
Adjusting to the Kolkata Maidan's slopey and damp pitches could prove to be a hectic task for the foreign players and it would be interesting to observe if Nabab's overseas men can adjust to the playing conditions of Kolkata.
3) Unstable Mohun Bagan midfield
Mohun Bagan were looking clueless in the first half with their midfield almost non-existent. The absence of a hold-up specialist was clearly visible in the middle of the park.
Shankarlal Chakrabarty went with Sourav Das, Pintu Mahata and Shilton de Silva in midfield. The trio was unable to combine well and thread in series of passes. Numerous mis-passes in the centre of the field allowed Pathachakra to hit Mohun Bagan on the counter. The Mariners had to resort to long ball play after the midfield was struggling to string passes together.
However, Mr. Chakrabarty decided to not field Mehtab Hossain, who could have changed the course of the game, with his pin-point passing. The absence of Abinash Ruidas on the flanks was also noticeable as wing-play was non-existent in the first half.
2) Rain fails to play spoilsport
After East Bengal and Tollygunge's game was washed out due to incessant rains resulting in a waterlogged pitch, all eyes were on the drainage system of the Mohun Bagan Ground to determine if the rain plays spoilsport again. However, nothing of that sort happened.
With a cloud cover of over 91 per cent and an inflow of cold breeze, the game was played in relatively pleasant conditions. The clouds finally gave in on the 65th minute.
Mohun Bagan's Ground is known to have the best pitch across the whole of the Kolkata Maidan circuit. Credits must be given to the Mohun Bagan pitch authorities for laying such an intricate drainage system and dry pitch in a region where poor soil topography plays a major role on damp football fields.
Despite heavy rains, the fans stayed glued to their seats and stayed till the final whistle to see Mohun Bagan prevail eventually after a tough contest.
Rains late in the second half did play a part in Pathachakra's game. Pejic's freekick went miles over the target and an injury-time open net miss could be attributed to the heavy downpour in the final minutes of the game.
1) Goalkeepers on top form
The game ended just 1-0 in favour of the Mariners. The scoreline could have been much elusive had it not been for the immense athleticism shown by both the keepers at either respective ends of the pitch.
Arindam Ghosh pulled off a brilliant save to deny Shilton de Silva, who blasted one from distance in the first half. Arindam Ghosh may have made a mess of the ball in the second half, which allowed Kisekka to slot home the winner, but he was instrumental in keeping the scoreline goalless.
He came bravely came off the line to pressurize Kisekka, who rushed his shot and got a faint touch, instead of a clear one and, ended up rattling the woodwork.
Shilton Paul, on his 13th season with Mohun Bagan, was on song as he made several crucial saves to keep Mohun Bagan in the game. Paul showed some exemplary reflexes in the second half to deny Dipankar Sarkar who headed in on goal from point-blank range.
Shilton Paul came off the line bravely on a couple of occasions and cleared his lines confidently.
Bengal has been producing quality keepers for the national team and the I-league for the past few years, and such performances in the city league only proves the point even better.