| United SC players celebrate after Ranty Martins’ (second from left) goal, in the IFA Shield final, on Wednesday. Picture by Gautam Bose |
Calcutta: Ranty Martins’ golden foot gave Prayag United Sports Club their maiden IFA Shield at the Salt Lake Stadium, here, on Wednesday.
The Nigerian got only one chance throughout the match and that was enough to seal favourites Kingfisher East Bengal’s fate.
With 10 minutes left, Shylo Malsawamtluanga made his trademark darting run cutting in from the right and then freed Ranty. The star striker, a master inside the box, covered his marker Gurwinder Singh well.
And by the time the East Bengal defender went for the final tackle, the Nigerian’s shot had already crashed into the goal past an onrushing Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
As Ranty and his teamamtes celebrated wildly, some 40,000 East Bengal fans fell silent. If it was Super Sunday against Mohun Bagan, it was a Wallowing Wednesday for Trevor James Morgan and his boys against United SC.
After scoring the goal, United SC did not do a Mohun Bagan. For the last 10 minutes — 14 with the additional time — they defended doggedly even as East Bengal threw everything at them.
And when referee Santhosh Kumar blew the final whistle it was party time for the men in purple. It was United’s second major trophy after the 2010 Durand Cup.
This year they invested heavily bringing in players like Subrata Paul, Gouramangi Singh, Costa Rican World Cupper Carlos Hernandez and Ranty. United could not do much in the Federation Cup, and are now placed mid-table of I-League. Hopefully this IFA Shield triumph will give the officials and the sponsors the impetus to go for more in future.
East Bengal were never in the match. Some may say that the Sunday win over Mohun Bagan drained them out but it was more about United coach Eelco Schattorie’s smart thinking and the players responding to the challenge.
Bello Rassaq played the match of his life, while Deepak Mondal and Gouramangi made sure Bello’s effort did not go down the drain. And on the left Sukhen Das was simply amazing.
Sanju Pradhan, Man of Match against Mohun Bagan, was kept quiet by this gutsy defender. With Sanju hardly doing anything Khabra, the right back, also hardly had any effect on the match.
As expected Edeh Chidi did not start. But his replacement Andrew Barisic, the hero of the last match, could not do much. He tried his best but then Bello, ably supported by Deepak, was not in a mood to give an inch.
Whenever Barisic had the ball, it was few and far between though, Bello was there to stifle him. Still East Bengal had a chance when Barisic gave one to Baljit Sahni. But Sahni instead of playing it wide on the left where Lalrindika Ralte and Penn Orji were waiting, took a poor shot which goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee did not have any trouble in dealing with.
Rightly, Morgan pulled him out and brought in Robin Singh within minutes. Robin could not do much just like his teammates. In the end it was United who were rewarded for taking their chances.
United SC : Sangram Mukherjee, Deepak Mondal, Gouramangi Singh, Bello Rassaq, Sukhen Dey, K Asif, Lalkamal Bhowmick, Carlos Hernandez, James Singh (Shylo Malsawamtluanga 61, Sankar Oraon 89), Ranty Martins (Kayne Vincent 91), Mohammed Rafique.
East Bengal: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Uga Okpara, Gurwinder Singh, Saumik Dey, Sanju Pradhan, Mehtab Hussain, Penn Orji (Edeh Chidi 78), Lalrindika Ralte (Naoba Singh 57), Andrew Barisic, Baljit Sahni (Robin Singh 59)
Referee: MB Santosh Kumar