| Satish Bharti (left) and Iqbal Khan (right) congratulate Dipendu Biswas for netting a hattrick against Eastern Railway at Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, July 19: Dipendu Biswas is back to his goal-scoring best, the smile has settled on Mohammed Habeeb’s face.
After drawing a blank in the first three games, Dipendu netted a brace the other day against West Bengal Police. On Saturday, he went one better, striking all three to set up Mohammedan Sporting’s thrilling 3-2 win over Eastern Railway in the Super Division league match at Salt Lake Stadium.
History will record Dipendu’s effort on a near-treacherous, slushy turf as just a hattrick. But its real significance lay in the fact that it helped his team overturn a 1-2 deficit — that, too, inside the final 20 minutes of a fast-paced match.
Mohammedan Sporting now have 12 points from five outings, while Eastern Railway stay on eight after seven games.
The scoreline may suggest a highly competitive encounter, but it was Mohammedan Sporting who called the shots with some pleasing soccer — especially in the opening session. For the first time this season, the black-and-white brigade looked like a well-drilled unit with some purpose.
Bungo Singh controlled the middle of the park with considerable support from Syed Rahim Nabi and Sheikh Sanjib, who both operated from behind Dipendu and shouldered heavy load. The flanks were used frequently, side-backs Amandeep Singh and Amjad Ali Khan proving handful for the railway defence.
Dipendu could have got into the scoresheet within five minutes of kick-off. As Eastern Railway stoppers Arunava Sarkar and Debashish Sen made the cardinal mistake of exchanging square passes inside the 18-yard box, the opportunistic Dipendu pounced on the ball only to see his right-footer go wide of target.
Misfortune struck Nabi in the 17th minute. A nice bout of passing between Dipendu and Amjad found Nabi clear on the edge of the box. He turned and let go a grounder which rolled past ’keeper Tapan Karmakar, struck the base of the post before being cleared from danger zone.
Dipendu opened his account in the 29th minute — from the penalty spot. Sanjib was pushed off balance by Farid Ali just as he aimed for goal from the penalty box. Referee Gopinath Pyne pointed to the dreaded spot and Dipendu converted coolly.
Eastern Railway restored parity two minutes from half-time, from their first goal-bound move. Kuntal Biswas took a free-kick quickly, Somnath Pramanick speeded down the right and essayed a pinpoint cross which Henry Odogo missed but not Saikat Mondal. The medio, following the path of the ball, sneaked in between Satish Bharti-Hussain Mustafi to stab the ball past Bivash Ghosh.
Six minutes after half-time, Eastern Railway were lucky to be in front. An unmarked Farid Ali, receiving an excellent cross from Saikat, hardly connected well with a right-footer which went in off Bivash’s hands. Stung by this ‘mishap’, Mohammedan Sporting lost rhythm. It called for an experienced man to put his hand up. Dipendu did that expertly.
He first capitalised on a misunderstanding between the railway central defenders to shoot in the equaliser in the 72nd minute. Four minutes later, Dipendu jumped above the crowd to head in a Mustafi floater and complete his hattrick.
“A hattrick always gives you a good feeling, but I am more satisfied because the team won,” said Dipendu whose last hattrick was in the 2002 Santosh Trophy.
Mohammedan Sporting: Bivash Ghosh, Amjad Ali Khan, Hussain Mustafi, Satish Bharti, Amandeep Singh, Bungo Singh, Iqbal Khan, Khaled Siddiqui (Satish Minz, 64), Syed Rahim Nabi, Dipendu Biswas, Sheikh Sanjib (Abdul Rauf Khan, 77).
Eastern Railway: Tapan Karmakar, Arunava Sarkar, Debashish Sen, Santanu Bit, Sanchit Datta Bhowmick (Santanu Dey, 84), Kuntal Biswas, Farid Ali Mollah (Binay Saha, 80), Saikat Mondal, Nilanjan Guha (Samrat Roy Chowdhury, 66), Somnath Pramanick, Henry Odogo.
Referee: Gopinath Pyne.