| Sheikh Sanjeeb congratulates Dipendu Biswas after the first goal at Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: Mohammedan Sporting were on the verge of making a mess of a comfortable three-goal cushion against Mohammedan AC in the Super Division match at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday.
After conceding two goals in a spell of eight minutes, the black-and-white brigade clung on for the last 28 minutes to ensure the 3-2 victory. The win took Mohammedan Sporting to 18 points from eight games while Mohammedan AC stay on 16 from 10.
The beginning, however, never suggested things would become so difficult for the Federation Cup finalists. Their midfield worked like a well-oiled machine as Mohammedan Sporting raided the rival territory time and again.
Moreover, with hardly any blocking from the opposition in the middle-third, the Mohammedan Sporting attackers reached the penetrative zone quite easily.
They were also stretching the rival defence well as balls started floating in from both the flanks.
Mohammedan AC did not help their cause with someone like Bernard Oparanozie in the heart of their defence.
The veteran defender, quite clearly overweight, was having a torrid time trying to keep the nippy Dipendu Biswas and Sheikh Sanjeeb in check.
Rahim Nabi, who hasn’t lived up to his reputation this season, also looked good. Playing a little withdrawn, he was the main supplier. He was also the extra man in the penetrative zone for Mohammedan Sporting, which helped them open the rival goalmouth so many times.
They opened scorline in the 15th minute when Bungo Singh sent a cross from the right and Nabi’s shot struck a rival defender and reached Dipendu on the rebound. The striker promptly slotted the ball in from a goalmouth melee.
The second goal, by Sanjeeb, was surely the best of the lot. Nabi’s pass found Sanjeeb in a difficult angle inside the box, but the striker’s brilliant left-footer beat the rival custodian on the far post.
The two-goal cushion seemed to bring in a bit of complacency in the Mohammedan Sporting ranks, and their unfancied neighbours came very close to pulling one back in the 42nd minute.
Subrata Guha got a ball inside the box with Mohammed Refeek at his mercy, but his right-footer was too weak to test the rival ’keeper.
Mohammedan Sporting made it 3-0 deep into injury time in the first session. Amandeep Singh’s free-kick was headed down by Dipendu inside the box and Nabi made no mistake from close.
The black-and-white brigade looked eager to add a few more, when a horrendous goalkeeping error by Refeek on a counter attack made it 1-3 for Mohammedan AC. The ball bounced out of Refeek’s grasp following a long-ranger by Arup Sarkar, and Ari Benjamin lurking nearby, put it in.
Benjamin sent a long ball from the midfield in the 62nd minute and Refeek erred in his outing and was haplessly stranded when Danny Muinro lobbed the ball into the net over the ’keeper’s head.
Mohammedan Sporting coach Mohammed Habeeb wasn't at all happy with the performance of his boys. “Letting in two goals quite disappointing. Anyway, Mohammedan AC also played well.”
MD. SPORTING: Mohammed Refeek, Amjad Ali Khan, Hossain Mustafi, Habeeb Adekunle, Amandeep Singh, Bungo Singh (Trijit Das, 90), Satish Bharti, Khalid Siddiqui (Iqbal Shahnawaz Khan, 62), Sheikh Sanjeeb (Satish Minz, 80), Rahim Nabi, Dipendu Biswas.
MOHAMMEDAN AC: Sankar Dey, Riajul Mustafa, Lawal Jibenga, Saryat Reza, Bernard Oparanozie, Soumik Dey, Danny Muinro, Subrata Guha (Khemtang Paite, 74), Swarup Chatterjee (Najimul Haq, 24), Mudassar Hussain (Ari Benjamin, 41), Arup Sarkar.
Referee: Subrata Dey.
The East Bengal-Mohammedan Sporting match, scheduled for Tuesday, has been postponed to Saturday since police permission wasn’t available. Accordingly, the Mohun Bagan-Mohammedan Sporting tie will now be held on August 26.