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EB let Dempo off the hook

- Defensive lapse allows Goan team to steal a point
Robin Singh (left) and Edeh Chidi of East Bengal during the match versus Dempo, at Salt Lake Stadium, on Saturday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Squandering chances — some of them being sitters — seems to have become a chronic disease for East Bengal especially during the last couple of seasons. Saturday too was no different.

Sample this. Penn Orji, evading Dempo SC footballers at close range, sets Robin Singh up with a minus in the 76th minute. All that an unmarked Robin, positioned perfectly inside the box, needed to do was just tap the ball home.

Unfortunately for East Bengal, the striker took his own sweet time before the ball was cleared to safety by rival defenders. And just seven minutes after Robin’s bungle, Peter Carvalho came up with the equaliser, which allowed Dempo to hold East Bengal to a 1-1 draw in this crucial I-League encounter here at the Salt Lake Stadium.

The match, tipped to be a tactical battle between the two coaches — East Bengal’s Trevor James Morgan and Armando Colaco of Dempo — saw the home team being on the offensive right from the outset. But it’s goal that matters in the end in this ‘Beautiful Game’ and the red-and-golds just don’t seem to get them when they really matter.

Nonetheless, East Bengal finally were on the ascendancy when Edeh Chidi converted a spot-kick in the 31st minute. A goal-bound Penn, after receiving a ball just outside the box, made a swift turn in order to ward off his marker Mahesh Gawli before the latter fouled him inside the penalty area.

Referee Ajit Meetei duly awarded East Bengal with a penalty. And Chidi calmly stepped up to do the needful.

The rub of the green seemed to be well in favour of Morgan’s men as referee Meetei didn’t point to the dreaded spot even though Ryuiji Sueoka was tripped inside the box by Saumik Dey a decision that is certainly controversial.

With only 20 minutes remaining for regulation time, Colaco put on his thinking cap and introduced Joaquim Abranches and former EPL star Rohan Ricketts. And soon, Dempo started to show more intent.

The equaliser finally arrived in the 83rd minute, thanks to a defensive lapse from the hosts. Even Uga Okpara, mainstay of the East Bengal defence, was caught napping that allowed Carvalho with a free header after being laid off by an unmarked Cresson Antao from Abranches’ well-directed corner.

The error would not have been a costly one had the mistakes been avoided earlier.