|Lajong FCís L. Fanai vies for the ball with East Bengalís
Edeh Chidi, on Friday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta: Back to square one. East Bengal proved that their brilliant performance against Mohammedan Sporting the other day was just an aberration as the red-and-gold brigade returned to their usual indolent self, on Friday.
The hosts played out a barren draw against Lajong FC, in an I-League match, at the Salt Lake Stadium and barring the last 15 minutes, when they showed some urgency, they looked too happy to go through the motions.
With Harmanjyot Singh Khabra being ruled out at the last moment for four yellow cards, Subodh Kumar was entrusted with the role of holding midfielder. The youngster was all at sea and, by the time Colaco replaced him with Cavin Lobo, Lajong already had complete control of the proceedings.
Lajong could have taken the lead in the fourth minute when Brazilian Uilliams Souza Silva’s booming 25-yard free-kick was parried onto the post by goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal, who reacted at the last moment.
The best chance for Lajong came three minutes before half-time. Uilliams toyed with Raju Gaikwad before sending in the delightful centre into the East Bengal penalty box. Redeem Tlang had only Abhijit to beat, but he headed straight to the goalkeeper.
The evening’s easiest was missed by Seiminlen Doungel, who replaced James Moga. Robert Lalthlamuana’s delightful through pass from the left found an unmarked Seimenlen. The striker had acres of space in front of him and only rival goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte to beat. But Seiminlen lost his nerves and pushed it wide.
East Bengal: Abhijit Mondal, Naoba Singh, Arnab Mondal, Raju Gaikwad, Robert Lalthlamuana, Shylo Malsawmtluanga (Baljit Sahni 88), Subodh Kumar (Cavin Lobo 31), Ryuji Sueoka, Lalrindika Ralte, Chidi Edeh, James Moga (Seiminlen Doungel 77).
Lajong FC: Lalthuammawla Ralte, Robin Gurung, Minchol Son, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, Jibon Singh, Redeem Tiang (Durga Boro 90), Taisuke Matsugae, Boithang Haokip (Subhas Singh 87), Lalramluaha Hmar, Seikhohao Tuboi, Uilliams Souza Silva.
Referee: Rahul D’Sa
MoM: Lalthuammawla Ralte