East Bengal’s title aspirations suffered a major setback on Monday evening as they were stunned 0-1 by a well organised Peerless unit. Liberian striker Ansumanah Kromah scored from the spot in the 65th minute to steer his team to yet another memorable win in the ongoing Calcutta Football League.
East Bengal made seven changes to the starting line-up from the match against Southern Samity. They were on the back foot from the initial stages of the match, with the Ansumanah Kromah led Peerless forward line hurling attacks at regular intervals.
East Bengal had a golden opportunity to draw first blood, but Marcos de la Espada’s header was denied by the woodwork. For Peerless, Kromah was at the centre of all the moves and was supported well by Dipendu Dowary and Jiten Murmu.
In the first period, Kromah was set free in the box with the keeper to beat. The Liberian positioned himself for the kill, but Kamalpreet Singh averted the danger by clearing away the ball. Peerless played a team game, had a positive intent, used the wings with efficiency.
On the other hand, the ‘red and gold’ brigade was sloppy throughout with a lot of miss passes. A tackle from behind from Kamalpreet Singh on Pankaj Moula which tempted the referee to award a penalty. Experienced campaigner Kromah kept his cool and put his team ahead. A special mention to Peerless’ central defender Varney Kallon who had an exceptional game.
The duo of Ronaldo Oliviera and Marcos de la Espada was largely ineffective and was replaced by the pair of Jaime Santos Colado and Bidyasagar Singh. The substitutions hardly had any effect on the game. Midfielders Kassim Aidara and Lalrindika Ralte were the only two footballers who played positive football for the 39-time champions.
East Bengal’s custodian made an acrobatic save in the 79th minute after Peerless' substitute player was allowed a free shot inside the box. The hosts tried hard to squeeze in the equalizer in the closing stages of the match but Peerless held on to the lead and had the last laugh.
With the win, Peerless has now climbed up to the top of the points table with 13 points from six matches. East Bengal drop to the fourth position with 9 points.