| Lal Malswama Hamar |
Calcutta: For East Bengal the proverbial fat lady sang on Friday as their flickering title hopes in the Sahara CFL Premier League were dashed at the Salt Lake Stadium by a United SC side who are fighting a battle of their own — to avoid relegation. A Lal Malswama Hamar strike in the 9th minute ensured a 1-0 win for United SC.
The red and gold brigade started the day on 21 points having played 11 games, but couldnt keep up the pressure on leaders Mohun Bagan and second placed side Mohammedan Sporting by the end of the evening. With the win United SC managed to stay temporarily ahead of Railway FC (who have a match in hand) in the race to avoid the last relegation spot.
Hamar, who impressed in the tie against Mohun Bagan, was outstanding against Manoranjan Bhattacharjees boys picking up the Man of the Match award. He scored from a marvellous strike, hitting the target from nearly 25 yards out. The diminutive midfielder volleyed with his right foot after latching onto a poor clearance from the East Bengal defence. The ball flew past a hapless Subrata Paul and nestled into the top corner. Hamar and Co. won the midfield battle outplaying the likes of Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Mehtab Hossain. East Bengal coach Manoranjan Bhattacharjee was forced to replace the ineffective Mehtab with Edmilson Marquez, but persisted with Mehrajuddin. Last matchs hero, winger Sanju Pradhan, was surprisingly taken off handing substitute Dharamjit Singh his first league appearance.
Ashim Biswas and Sunil Chhetri were left to feed off scraps, barely threatening Arindam Ghosh under the bars for United SC. Gouranga Datta who has impressed all season turned out another good display for United SC, coming close on several occasions with his dreaded left foot. United SC striker Soumik Chakraborty almost doubled the lead for his side in the 81st minute when he was through on goal with only Subrata Paul to beat.
Paul though showed why he is being currently regarded as the best in business by throwing himself at the onrushing Soumiks feet and emerging with the ball. Dharamjit Singh tested Arindam Ghosh a little too late — his 90th minute effort was kept out smartly.
United SC coach Subrata Bhattacharjee was delighted with his sides performance. The boys were very good today, they needed to go out there and win and they did it…We need to keep up this performance to emerge victorious in the relegation fight.
The disgruntled East Bengal fans left the stands calling for coach Manoranjan Bhattacharjees head, but lauding former coach Subrata Bhattacharjees efforts.
East Bengal: Subrata Paul, Surkumar Singh, Nirmal Chhetri, Suley Musah, Saumik Dey, Sanju Pradhan(Dharamjit Singh, 71), Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Mehtab Hossain(Edmilson Marquez, 40), Syed Rahim Nabi, Ashim Biswas(Alvito DCunha, 82), Sunil Chhetri
United SC: Arindam Ghosh, Louice Nigi Ebami, Dhanaraj(Debabrata Roy, 82), Dulal Biswas, Gouranga Dutta, Arnab Mondal, Lal Malswama Hamar, Soumik Chakraborty, Shasti Duley(Kinshuk Debnath, 93), Snehasish Chakraborty, Muritala Ali.
Referee: Rathin Mukherjee.
Man of the Match: Lal Malswama Hamar.