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Justice for George Telegraph

After Mohun Bagan got thrashed and Mohammedan Sporting were held, it was East Bengal’s turn to face the heat

By Sayak Banerjee in Calcutta
  • Published 10.08.19, 2:57 AM
  • Updated 10.08.19, 2:57 AM
  • 2 mins read
Action during East Bengal’s match against George Telegraph on Friday Picture by Santosh Ghosh

The Calcutta Football League is witnessing a rare phenomenon with the Big Three stumbling in their opening matches of the league.

After Mohun Bagan got thrashed and Mohammedan Sporting were held, it was East Bengal’s turn to face the heat.

Playing better football for most phases, George Telegraph beat them by a solitary goal in Friday’s Premier Division A match at the East Bengal ground. The man to win it for George Telegraph was Justice Morgan, who scored seconds before the final whistle that stung East Bengal, leaving the fans dumbfounded.

The home team, having fielded most of their reserves, tried to go for an all-out attack towards the end. All George Telegraph needed to do was exploit the gaps in the rival defence and they did exactly that.

A counter-attack in the fourth minute of added time saw substitute Arun Suresh set it up for Justice, who placed the ball home comfortably past East Bengal goalie Rakshit Dagar, ensuring justice prevailed for George Telegraph especially after the wonderful effort they put in.

Courtesy this victory, George Telegraph moved up to the top spot in the standings with nine points from three matches.

“Good to get such a win, especially before I get ready for the Santosh Trophy,” said coach Ranjan Bhattacharya, who is also in charge of the Bengal team for the upcoming inter-state tournament.

“I still remember when we were forced to lose against East Bengal last year. The second goal they scored then was unfair. So, it’s certainly a relief that we have won on this occasion.

“They may boast of Spanish flavour and all, but Bengali minds too cannot be taken for a ride. We can also give it back in a befitting manner,” Bhattacharya said, taking a dig at East Bengal’s Spanish coach Alejandro Menendes Garcia and their players from Spain.

East Bengal fielding just one foreign player (Marti Crespi Pascual) in the game made matters a shade easier for George Telegraph, agreed striker Justice.

“Our coach told us that they were going in with a lone overseas player. That made us more confident as a team.

“Besides, this East Bengal team isn’t as good as it was last year,” said the former Aizawl FC and Chennai City Nigerian, who scored his first goal in the league this season.

Not that the youngsters in this East Bengal side lacked intent, but their execution was below expectations, with a touch too many wrong passes complicating matters for them.

Yet, they could have secured at least a point had young Subhronil Ghosh not squandered a sitter.

Towards the end of the first half, Abhijit Sarkar charged from the left flank, evaded a rival player and set it up for Subhronil. But his left- footed attempt from handshaking distance blew over the crosspiece.

Another promising youngster Bidyashagar Singh, who scored a brace against Jamshedpur FC reserves the other day in a Durand Cup game, was also off-colour. His ball receiving and control was just not up to the mark. Throughout the game, only once he shot at the target, before opposition goalkeeper Laltu Mondal deflected it to safety.

But all said and done, credit must be given to George Telegraph players for their tenacity. Yes, their game plan was based on a tight defence with just one man forward — Joel Sunday — and Justice playing as withdrawn striker.

But their defence, comprising the seasoned Aniyiche Echezona, Ashim Kumar Dey, Mohan Sarkar and Nabi Hossain Khan, kept blocking and negating almost every attempted attack by East Bengal.

Equally impressive were Bablu Oraon and Tonmoy Ghosh, who came in as a substitute at the half-hour mark. Quite rightly coach Bhattacharya feels Oraon will play a crucial role in the Santosh Trophy.