| Mohammedan Sporting’s Dipendu Biswas is surrounded by a clutch of Tollygunge Agragami players at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: Nigeria’s John Ugwu made a spectacular debut for Mohammedan Sporting, handing his new team an opening-minute lead against Tollygunge Agragami at Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday.
The black-and-white brigade, however, failed to capitalise on the early advantage and eventually settled for a disappointing 1-1 truce on Day I of the championship leg of the CFL Super Division.
After Ugwu’s goal, Mohammedan Sporting seemed set to exact revenge for their 0-1 loss to the same rivals — a result that helped Tollygunge Agragami pip them to third place in the first phase of Super Division. But Mohammed Habeeb’s boys missed aplenty and finally suffered a shock when Chinmay Sarkar equalised in the 67th minute.
Till then, Tollygunge, coached by Biswajit Das following Subrata Bhattacharya’s decision to go on medical leave, didn’t even create a chance. Neither did they show any intention of making a move towards the opponents’ box.
Chinmay, in fact, changed an apparent innocuous counter-move into the platform for the equaliser. When he held a loose ball near the rivals’ half-line, it seemed hardly worth an attention from the players. He, however, had other intentions and he promptly unleashed a right-footed grounder, which went in past goalkeeper Mohammed Refeek’s desperately stretched-out left hand.
Chinmay’s goal totally upset the Mohammedan Sporting plans and they started committing mistakes. On one occasion, Ugwu almost conceded another for his team, when his back-headed clearance off a Shamsi Reza free-kick went out agonisingly close to the upright.
The day, however, had begun on a perfect note for Mohammedan Sporting. Ugwu, who signed for the club barely 24 hours ago, fed Bungo Singh on the right. The latter floated a cross after a searing run down the flank and Ugwu, who, by that time, covered a lot of space to position himself inside the box, headed home for the early goal.
Throughout the first half, Mohammedan Sporting enjoyed unquestionable authority, with the woodwork denying them as many as three times. Within four minutes of Abdul Rauf Khan’s 25-yard volley, which crashed into the crossbar, Dipendu Biswas’ 16th-minute header from close got a smothering one-handed save from custodian Chinmay Banerjee.
In the second half, the woodwork further stood in the way of Khaled Siddiqui’s high left-footed volley and substitute Sheikh Sanjib’s right-footed attempt, as Tollygunge faced a harrowing time, stemming the flow of attacks from the opposite end.
Tollygunge Agragami: Chinmay Banerjee; Kabijit Khotel, Isiaka Awoyemi, Partha Sarathi Dey, Gautam Debnath (Sujit Neogi, 45); Shamsi Reza, Chinmay Sarkar, Sandip Das (Tengen Kaibang, 64), Suman Dutta, Niladri Chakraborty (Prakash Kolay, 41); Akeem Abolanle.
Mohammedan Sporting: Mohammed Refeek; Amjad Ali Khan, Habib Adekunle, Madhab Das, Momocha Singh; Bungo Singh, John Ugwu, Khaled Siddiqui (Iqbal Shahnawaz Khan, 68), Arjan Ali (Sheikh Sanjib, 28); Abdul Rauf Khan, Dipendu Biswas.
Referee: Jayanta Sarkar.
Ever-Ready two good
In the other Super Division (championship leg) match of the day, Ever-Ready proved too strong for Mohammedan AC at Howrah Stadium, winning 2-0. Eugene Gray and Edwards Chukwuma Jeremiah scored for the winners.