| Mohun Baganís Abhay Kumar tackles a Wari challenger at home on Monday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: The match was three-minutes old when a typical Rennedy Singh free-kick found Sunil Chhetri in the box. There was no challenge from the defenders around and the diminutive, young striker had no difficulty beating goalkeeper Nasib-ul Haq.
It was a perfect start for Mohun Bagan, which took the field without its first-line forwards, but which looked desperate to make winning a habit.
True, Wari AC are relegation-strugglers, having managed just two points after ten matches, while their fancied opponents are already assured of a Super Six berth with 25 points.
However, the early promise soon evaporated and what unfolded thereafter was a long tale of scrappy, frustrating football. Wari started looking like a big worry for them and the green-and-maroon brigade was real lucky to cling on to the lead in the CFL Super Division clash at home.
Soon after the third-minute setback, Dipak Das broke free into the box, first outrunning Babun Kar and then outsmarting a retreating Mehtab Hossain. But the Wari medio could not translate his 13th-minute effort into an equaliser because he faltered with the ball at the last minute, but it lay the Mohun Bagan rearguard exposed to speedy counter-attacks.
In the second half, substitute Jehan Mehta came twice came close to neutralising the home teamís lead. In the 58th minute, Harpreet Singh rushed in in time to clear the ball when Mehta managed to go past the goalkeeper and tried to place the in.
Within twelve minutes, Mohun Bagan survived another close call when Mehtaís header from a vantage position went straight to Dora.
With no Jose Ramirez Barreto, Marcos Pareira and Ashim Biswas around, Chhetri paired up with irregular Shyambabu Raut upfront. Thanks to captain Rennedy and Abhay Kumar, who had a good outing as right half, a few chances fell the strikersí way.
None of them, though, was more open than the 70th minute opportunity. A clever chip from Rennedy found Raut clear into the box and the latter made a mess of that prospect, with the goalkeeper at his mercy.
Most of the time, the Mohun Bagan players went through the motion. Some of their passes landed in the direction opposite to the one intended and a few goalmouth shots went towards the corner-flag.
Coach Aloke Mukherjee later admitted that his team was lucky to earn full points. He, however, highlighted the absence of some key players for the cause of the scrappy show.
Though September 4 is far away, unless Mohun Bagan pull up their socks, they will have to keep their fingers crossed as they meet arch-rivals East Bengal in the Super Six clash.
Mohun Bagan: Prasanta Dora; Babun Kar, Harpreet Singh, Bhola Dey (Debkumar Sasmal, 63), Manitombi Singh (Rishi Kapoor, 31); Abhay Kumar, Mehtab Hossain (Hardeep Saini, 46), Basudeb Mondal, Rennedy Singh; Shyambabu Raut, Sunil Chhetri.
Wari AC: Nasib-ul Haq; Palash Ghosh, Nayan Dey, Samar Bhattacharjee (Kajal Das, 65), Suresh Kaibarto; Himadri Chakraborty, Sariq-ul Islam, Dipak Das, Bapi Haldar (Tarak Bose, 53); Sheikh Hridaytulla (Jehan Mehta, 27), Sanjib Sarkar.
Referee: Rathin Mukherjee.