| Tollygunge goalkeeper Chinmoy Banerjee foils a Kulothungan effort during East Bengal’s Super Division match at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: Having made sure that a play-off final will take place, Tuesday’s Super Division match against Tollygunge Agragami was of academic interest for East Bengal. Coach Subhas Bhowmick took the opportunity to try out a few of the reserve bench players.
Barring two good goals by the two teams, what followed was insipid and listless soccer for 90 minutes that left the spectators disgruntled. East Bengal, the defending champions, still managed to carve out a 2-1 victory at the Salt Lake Stadium. K. Kulothungan and Raman Vijayan put them ahead before Tollygunge pulled one back through Manik Barman.
The injury-plagued Tollygunge Agragami struggled to field 11 players but the naïve and unknown faces put up a stiff resistance against their more fancied opponents.
The East Bengal midfield struggled to initiate moves and the forwards seemed lost in the crowd. The midfield wore a very tired look as Suley Musah, Dipankar Roy and Sasthi Duley seemed bereft of ideas.
The moves were generally initiated down the right with Sur Kumar Singh exposing the chinks in the Tollygunge defence. The energetic and enthusiastic side-half showed great agility but less imagination during his forays down the flank.
East Bengal took the lead through a freak goal in the 37th minute. Kulothungan’s dipping volley from over 35 yards out left the goalkeeper stranded on the goalline. The second goal came in the 64th minute. Raman was inside the penalty area to tap in a Dipankar cross from the right.
Just when it seemed that Tollygunge were resigned to their fate, the unknown Barman struck. Suman Datta’s free-kick from near the corner flag was sailing in harmlessly into the penalty area when Barman’s left-footed volley found the roof the netting. A superb goal that left the East Bengal defence and goalkeeper Sandip Nandy stranded.
These apart it was a story of some close shaves for the Tollygunge goal. Kulothungan, Vijayan and Dipankar were the worst offenders.
East Bengal: Sandip Nandy, Sur Kumar Singh, M. Suresh, Mahesh Gawli, Suley Musah, Dipankar Roy, Debjit Ghosh, Sasthi Duley, K. Kulothungan (Sujay Dutta, 67), Bijen Singh (Chandan Das, 77), Mike Okoro (Raman Vijayan, 31).
Tollygunge Agragami: Chinmoy Banerjee, Kabijit Khotel, Sujit Neogi, Isiaka Awoyemi (Narayan Saha, 40), Temzen Kibang, Gautam Debnath, Sandip Das, Manik Barman (Prakash Koley, 75), Suman Dutta, Akim Abolanle, Laltu Das (Amit Datta, 61).
Referee: Jayanta Sarkar