|Midfield action during Mohun Bagan’s CFL Premier Division match against Bhowanipore, at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Wednesday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta: Wednesday certainly seemed to be a new day for ‘troubled’ McDowell Mohun Bagan as the club registered their first win under the tutelage of Karim Bencharifa when they edged past Bhowanipore 2-1 in a Calcutta Football League Premier Division match, at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Fortunately, Bagan played the entire match. Unfortunately, the crowd, including the police and security guards, wasn’t even a thousand strong.
Okolie Odafe (1st minute) and Stanley (53rd) scored for Bagan while Sanju Kumar (42nd) struck the only goal for Bhowanipore.
As a result, Bagan moved on to nine points from five matches and are currently placed fourth in Group B, while Bhowanipore, interestingly, remained at the top with 15 points from seven matches.
Bagan played scrappy football in the match, which was not surprising given the turmoil they gave got themselves into. While the midfielders lacked cohesion, the strikers never really threatened the opponent defence. The pace of the Bhowanipore midfielders and strikers, on the other hand, troubled the Bagan defence on numerous times. In fact, at times, ‘veteran’ Jose Ramirez Barreto’s turn here and there and his intelligent passing left the Bagan defenders in a daze.
After the match, Barreto was right on the ball about his former club Bagan. “I thought that the Bagan players were a bit down mentally... It is understandable that they are a bit disturbed with the current happenings. Under the scenario, the players must show strong characterů I believe they have a good side and a good coach and they can come out on top,” said Barreto.
Bagan went into the lead as early as in the first minute. After receiving a pass from Stanley, Odafe tried to get past his marker Jonny Routh. But Jonny tugged at Odafe’s shirt and fouled the Nigerian inside the box. Referee Prabir Dhar immediately awarded a penalty. Odafe stepped up and calmly converted from the spot.
Bagan could have extended their lead in 10th minute. Snehashish Chakraborty initiated a move on the left. After playing a quick one-two with Odafe, he found himself unmarked outside the Bhowanipore box. But he shot the ball straight at the goalkeeper Debjit Majumdar.
Bhowanipore equalised in the 42nd minute when Sanju Kumar headed home after his teammate backheaded a Santosh Kumar corner. Although the Bagan players appealed that Sanju used his hand to score, the referee ruled in favour of Bhowanipore.
In the 53rd minute, Stanley scored the winner when his header, off a Manish Bhargav cross, found the back of the net. Bagan won the match, but they have a far bigger battle to win in the coming days.
Mohun Bagan: Arindam Bhattacharya, Nirmal Chetri (Aiborlang Khongjee 76th minute), Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Khelemba Meetei, Deepak (Biswajit Saha 46th), Snehasish Chakraborty, Denson Devadas, Manish Bhargav, Rakesh Masih, Stanley, Okolie Odafe (Dipendu Biswas 46th).
Bhowanipore: Debjit Majumdar, Dipendu Dowary, Richard Gariseb, Jony Routh, Arun Pandey, Santosh Oraon, Sagram Mandi, Goutam Thakur, Uttam Debnath (Abhinash Ruidas 76th), Sanju Kumar, Jose Ramirez Barreto
Referee: Prabir Dhar