| Mohun Bagan’s Partha Sarathi Dey (left) tries to clear the ball from Mohammedan Sporting’s Ghulam Rahim Nabi at the Salt Lake Stadium Thursday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: The inducement of huge incentive did not lead to success as Mohammedan Sporting settled for a goalless truce with Mohun Bagan in the Calcutta Football League Super Division tie at Salt Lake Stadium Thursday.
In a match played under lights, where tempers ran high, Mohammedan Sporting enjoyed unquestionable supremacy over their fancied rivals, but made heavy weather of some gilt-edged chances.
The stalemate placed East Bengal on top of the league table with 22 points. Mohammedan Sporting and reigning champions Mohun Bagan are placed second and third with 20 and 16 points, respectively. All three have completed eight matches.
Starting with Dipendu Biswas and Abdulateef Seriki upfront with the agile Ghulam Rahim Nabi and Amit Das keeping the supply-line between midfield and the forwards active, Mohammed Habeeb’s boys tightened the noose around a suspect Mohun Bagan back-line.
Deep into first half, Nabi shot straight at Bivash Ghosh, with the Mohun Bagan custodian at his mercy, while Dipendu’s header struck the post after the break as Mohammedan Sporting continued to probe the elusive route to success, following the club officials’ announcement of Rs 1 lakh for a win.
As the match veered towards a disappointing end, Dipendu set up an incisive through for Nabi, but George Ekeh, who was used as sweeper in the second half, effected a timely tackle on the midfielder to avert danger.
It was, however, Mohun Bagan, who almost took a second-minute lead. Lolendra Singh sent in a widish corner and Ekeh, then playing as central mid-fielder, knocked it over into the box. Jose Ramirez Barreto, who saved his team on so many occasions last season, chipped the ball over goalkeeper Prasanta Dora, who came forward to claim it. However, the ball bounced on the crosspiece and went out.
The Brazilian striker again came close to the target in the 19th minute. He redirected a low Basudeb Mondal free-kick from the right in the direction of goal and the ball went agonisingly close past the far post.
In the very next minute, Barreto collected a ball near the centre line and having steered clear of Dipendu’s challenge, ran towards the unprotected left pocket of the box. But his eventual square pass from the touchline went unattended by as left-half Lolendra failed to get to the ball.
Referee Biswajit Bera also had a harrowing time in controlling the charged-up players. Mohammedan Sporting will bear the brunt of all this as they would miss defender Hossain Mustafi and Seriki in their next ‘big’ match, versus East Bengal on Tuesday. The players picked up a yellow each after coming into the match with another.
Besides, Hebeeb Adekunle of Mohammedan Sporting and Mohun Bagan’s defensive trio — captain Dulal Biswas, Kajol Bhattacharya and Satyabrata Bhowmick — were also cautioned for foul play.
Mohun Bagan: Bivash Ghosh; Dulal Biswas, Kajol Bhattacharya (Umesh Sharma, 46, Amar Ganguly, 89), Satyabrata Bhowmick, Partha Sarathi Dey (Santosh Singh, 84); Jayanta Sen, George Ekeh, Basudeb Mondal, Lolendra Singh; Jose Ramirez Barreto, Sunil Chettri.
Mohammedan Sporting: Prasanta Dora; Reazul Mustafa, Insan Ali, Hossain Mustafi, Amandeep Singh; Ghulam Rahim Nabi, Habeeb Adekunle, Amit Das, Khemtang Paite (Arunava Sarkar, 70); Dipendu Biswas, Abdulateef Seriki (Nazimul Haq, 82).
Referee: Biswajit Bera.