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The threat of relegation

- Abysmal Bagan lose 1-3 to Rangdajied, drop to ninth
Ranty Martins

Shillong/Calcutta: Rangdajied United FC (RUFC) are on a roll.

After defeating I-League table-toppers Bengaluru FC and United SC in their previous two home matches, it was Mohun Bagan who were at the receiving end, on Saturday.

The disjointed Calcutta side surrendered meekly, losing 1-3 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Bagan, therefore, are now five matches without a win and have dropped to the ninth spot. The fear of relegation still looms large over Bagan, who now have 21 points.

Churchill Brothers are at the bottom of the heap with 15 points, but they have played 17 matches as against Bagan’s 20.

Bagan next travel to Sporting Clube de Goa, who were held by Mumbai FC 1-1 in the day’s other match.

The RUFC side comprised decent players, but somehow they were unable to deliver, often failing to seize the key moments. However, with the addition of Ranty Martins, things have changed.

RUFC, who were once struggling at the bottom of the I-League table, are now on an ascent.

They jumped to the eighth position and put plenty of space between them and the relegation zone. Like in the previous two ties, Ranty was again the architect of the victory.

The hosts put three goals past the green-and-maroon brigade within 38 minutes before Okolie Odafa pulled one back. Tomba Singh opened the goal-fest in the 20th minute before Kim Song Yong and Ranty added two more.

The first goal was a stunning long-range effort by Tomba from just inside the Bagan half. Captain Eugeneson Lyngdoh took the ball deep on the left and crossed it in for star striker Ranty.

He could not get a clean shot and the ball ended up in Tomba’s possession.

Setting himself up brilliantly, he fired in the ball to the left of goalkeeper Sandip Nandy, who could not keep it out of the net.

RUFC made it 2-0 via a set-piece in the 35th minute. A free kick on the right saw Sandip fail to collect the ball and Kim tapped it in with a low shot.

A defensive lapse by Bagan saw Ranty make it 3-0. Lyngdoh was with the ball just outside the box in the centre but did not take a strike. The ball was not cleared, however, and Kim and Ranty went up the left unmarked. The Nigerian got there first and hammered the ball home.

It was not as though Bagan were being completely outplayed. They went on the offensive, with Odafa posing a danger. The lone forward partnered with Christopher Chizoba and got well away from the RUFC defenders. It was then all a matter of getting past ’keeper Surjay Kumar Pariyar and Odafa easily guided the ball in.

Half-time ended 3-1 and Bagan came out fighting in the second. While the visitors showed urgency to level the score, RUFC spent a lot of time in trying to slow the game down.

The two main highlights of the session were the mad scrambles in the RUFC goalmouth that were somehow rebuffed, frustrating the visitors more.

It was far from pretty, but the defending of the hosts were good enough to put Bagan off until the final whistle, earning the hosts a second victory over Bagan this season.