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Ever-Ready frustrate Bagan

Calcutta: Amal Dutta’s sights were set firmly on a solitary point. He achieved his goal, packing the Ever-Ready citadel with eight, and at times, nine men.

Aloke Mukherjee desperately needed three points from this potentially tricky Super Division clash, least bothered whether the bottomline read 1-0 or 4-0. The Mohun Bagan coach went home ruing the “dozen missed chances” by Jose Ramirez Barreto & Co.

The goalless result, which pushed Mohun Bagan further adrift of runaway leaders East Bengal, couldn’t have come on a more inopportune day than the one on which the IFA decided to do away with the play-off final to determine the Super Division champions. The green-and-maroon outfit has now dropped five points in six games.

Ever-Ready were happy to have ‘scalped’ a heavyweight, just three days after suffering a 0-1 defeat against Railway FC. Dutta’s team now has five points from four games.

It was no surprise that Ever-Ready took the field hellbent on a draw. Though Dutta has a few footballers on his roster whose names ring a bell, his resources hardly measure up to the ammunition in Mukherjee’s armoury.

But for Eugene Gray and, occasionally Mohammed Rafique, Ever-Ready had everyone else rooted inside their own halfline. Even a skilful operator like Jayanta Sen was busy tailing Marcos Parreira or Ashim Biswas.

The sun was out for most of the 90 minutes and the turf was anything but a muddy mess. Yet, the Mohun Bagan midfielders had a harrowing time for getting their cohesion together. That the home team still managed to penetrate the Ever-Ready defence so many times is a small wonder.

Hardeep Saini did nothing right and should have been taken off in the opening session itself. Hardeep Gill was a game trier, covering a good deal of ground but not exactly feeding the Barretos and Ashims with defence-splitting passes. Rennedy Singh was relatively active on the left corridor, but could have done better with the 10 corners Mohun Bagan earned. His left-footed floaters mostly found the wrong heads — Uttar Pradesh import Wajid Ali standing out among the crowd.

Standing even taller was Ever-Ready goalkeeper Kalyan Chowbey. The consistency he showed in single-handedly fisting or slapping away dangerous crosses meant for Barreto and Pareira was quite praiseworthy. His best effort, though, was a reflex one-handed swat to divert a clever Barreto flick from 10 yards out, three minutes from full time.

The Brazilian was in full cry by then, having shrugged off his first-half lethargy. He was going for every thing, desperate to put the ball in the Ever-Ready net by hook or by crook. If only his teammates had shown that kind of commitment and hunger…

Marcos is still to settle down in this Mohun Bagan unit. Three chances came and went in the final half-hour, before he could react properly. Ashim didn’t look fully fit for the 73 minutes he was on field. He did produce a gem of a one-two with Barreto early in the match — a moment which stood out from the otherwise uninspiring action.

TEAMS

Mohun Bagan: Imran Khan; Palash Karmakar, Harpreet Singh, Debkumar Sashmal, Rishi Kapoor, Rennedy Singh, Hardeep Saini (Basudeb Mondal, 46), Hardeep Gill, Ashim Biswas, Marcos Parreira, Jose Ramirez Barreto.

Ever-Ready: Kalyan Chowbey; Rajib Ahmed, Wajid Ali, Surajit Chakraborty, Bimal Sarkar, Sankar Roy Chowdhury, Dulal Biswas (Biswarup Bishu, 18), Jayanta Sen, Satyajit Bose (Sujit Ghosh, 66), Eugene Gray, Mohammed Rafique.

Referee: Jayanta Mukherjee.

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