It took almost a week to complete this matchday because the round started with a fixture last Thursday and ended with a Goan derby on Wednesday. The clash between Dempo and Salgaocar was originally scheduled for Sunday but the fixture got postponed as the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Margao came under AFC supervision from Sunday ahead of Churchill Brothers’ match against Singapore’s Home United on Tuesday.
The postponement didn’t affect in-form Salgaocar as first half goals from Darryl Duffy and Bikash Jairu gave them a 2-0 victory. It is their fifth straight win and moved them up to second spot and within four point of leaders Bengaluru. After being the early pacesetters in the title race, Salgaocar endured an eight-match winless streak through November and December. But the winter transfer signing of Dudu Omagbemi has revived their season as they are yet to drop points in 2014. Salgaocar’s latest win came against a Dempo side that had won their previous three games and it looks like Derrick Pereira’s side will be Bengaluru’s biggest threat for the title.
Bengaluru themselves recorded an impressive 3-1 away win over United SC in Kalyani earlier in the round. It was only the fourth win on their travels and there is plenty of hard work left as four of their remaining five fixtures are away from home. While Salgaocar have all the momentum at present, two other chasers lost further ground as East Bengal were held goalless by Lajong while Sporting Clube also picked up only a point against Mumbai FC despite taking the lead.
East Bengal haven’t won back-to-back I-League fixtures for more than 12 months now and despite having three games in hand over the top two, they have their work cut out now to even finish in the top three, something which they managed in the three seasons under Trevor Morgan. Sporting Clube are still just about in the title reckoning but have lost form at a crucial point of the campaign with no wins in their last four. The results of United SC and Mumbai opened the door for Rangdajied United to move up the table and the Shillong club took full advantage as they defeated Mohun Bagan to go eighth.
United Sports Club 1-3 Bengaluru FC; East Bengal 0-0 Shillong Lajong; Rangdajied United 3-1 Mohun Bagan; Sporting Clube 1-1 Mumbai FC; Dempo 0-2 Salgaocar
Game & Result of the round
Rangdajied United 3-1 Mohun Bagan
Mohun Bagan’s season went from bad to worse at the weekend as I-League debutants Rangdajied completed the double over them with a well-deserved home victory. Although Rangdajied won this convincingly in the end, the match was an end-to-end contest with both sides creating opportunities. But the Mariners made more mistakes and now are in serious danger of getting relegated as they are only six points above rock-bottom Churchill Brothers, who have played three games less.
Karim Bencherifa was hoping for a strong performance from his side but they conceded after just 20 minutes with Tomba Singh getting on the scoresheet for Rangdajied. Veteran Sandip Nandy, who replaced the injured Shilton Paul in Mohun Bagan’s goal, was responsible for Rangdajied’s second which was scored by Kim Yong. Ranti Martins scored for his new club for the third straight game as the hosts raced to a 3-0 lead after 38 minutes. Mohun Bagan had wasted some decent chances earlier in the half but Odafa Okolie finally pulled one back before the interval.
There were no further goals in the second half although both sides wasting chances. Rangdajied held on for their third consecutive victory and can suddenly dream about survival. But all those three wins have come on home soil so Herring Shangpliang’s side must pick up some away points too and three of their remaining five games are outside Shillong. The hope for Mohun Bagan is that besides Rangdajied, there are four other teams also in the relegation battle but worryingly the green-and-maroon brigade are winless in five in 2014 and only have four more fixtures to avoid the drop.
Foreigner – Darryl Duffy (Salgaocar)
The Scotsman scored his third goal in two games to take his I-League tally to eleven. The arrival of Dudu is once again bringing out the best of Duffy, who looked lively throughout against Dempo.
Indian – Eugeneson Lyngdoh (Indian)
The Rangdajied skipper had a big impact in the win over Mohun Bagan as he played a vital part in two of the three goals and worked extremely hard for his side.