Calcutta: Midway into the first half of the United SC vs Lajong FC I-League match at the Kalyani Stadium, on Sunday, a swarm of bees made the hundred-odd people in the stands run for cover.
Around the same time, United SC, who till then were dominating the proceedings, strangely lost the sting in their game. They squandered a lead of two goals and could only manage a point from the match which ended 2-2.
Not that the bees distracted the home side; the insects restricted their afternoon flights to the stands. But United’s inexplicable slip from a position of dominance on the ground was certainly as sudden as the bees’ appearance off it.
A settled Lajong side went into the match as favourites against a disturbed United SC. But technical director Subrata Bhattacharya’s ploy of employing three men — Eric Brown, Adekunle Waheed and Baldeep Singh — in attack perhaps took the Shillong side by surprise.
The hosts’ first goal came in the 14th minute when Eric latched on to a stray ball to unleash a swinging left-footer which beat Lajong ’keeper Vinay Singh.
United SC kept up the pressure and found their second goal eight minutes later. This time, Vinay’s sluggish attempt to pass it to teammate Robing Gurung within the box was intercepted by Eric. The Liberian tried to dribble past the ’keeper, but failed. But Waheed was there to capitalise on the loose ball as he placed it into an open net.
Being 2-0 up within the first 25 minutes was perhaps too good a show for United SC. They looked lax and the entire defence stood in a parallel line when, in the 29th minute, Lajong’s Brazilian striker Uilliams Souza Silva darted into the box from the left side and kept a low cross near the goal mouth. Durga Boro did the needful to make it 2-1 for the visitors.
Lajong got their equaliser in the 58th minute when Uilliams’ diagonal shot from the right edge of the box beat United SC ’keeper Jayanta Paul. Later, however, the home team claimed that Uilliams was in an offside position.
Between the two Lajong goals, United’s Baldeep wasted two sitters in two minutes. Lajong too goofed up a couple of good chances.
Lajong, with 24 points, are fourth in the points table; United SC are seventh with 20 points.
United had also drawn their last match, against Mumbai FC. In fact, they are winless in eight I-League matches on the trot. But are a better team than the statistics suggest.
United SC: Jayanta Paul, Dhanachandra Singh, Bello Rasaq, Anupam Sarkar, Deepak Mondal, Mohammed Rafique, Souvik Chakraborty, Asif K, Eric Brown, Adekunle Waheed (Surajit Bose, 82), Baldeep Singh (Biswajit Biswas, 75)
Lajong FC: Vinay Singh, Wailadmi Passah, Minchol Son, Robin Gurung, L. Fanai, Lalramluaha Hmar (Lalrammuana, 84), Boithang Haokip, Scikhohao Tuboi (Subash Singh, 46), Durga Boro, Cornell Glen, Uilliams Souza Silva.
Referee: Umesh Bora
MoM: Bello Rasaq