A spirited NEROCA side displayed tenaciousness as they held Mohun Bagan to a goalless draw at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen had brought back Ansumana Kromah and Sony Norde into the starting XI for this game, replacing Naro Hari Shrestha and Dipendu Dowary. Rana Gharam came in place of Eze Kingsley who was sent off against Shillong Lajong in the previous match.
NEROCA coach Gift Raikhan fielded his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation with midfielder Aryn Glen Williams pairing up with Varney Kallon Kiatamba in the central defence. Kyrgyzstan international Israilov Akhlidin got his maiden start in the number 10 position just behind Felix Chidi.
Mohun Bagan did not look convincing with their attacks in the first half as the trio of Kromah, Norde and Dicka failed to produce any move of note. The Haitian superstar did not look fully fit as he often struggled with the ball on the pitch. He was seen limping twice during the match.
Raikhan’s NEROCA, on the other hand, impressed right from the word go. They took an attacking approach and continuously imposed pressure on the Bagan defence. Their attacks were mostly generated by Subash Singh from the left flank.
Both the teams got a couple of chances to take the lead in the first half but none could find the back of the net. The teams went into the halftime break with the scoreboard flashing 0-0.
It was the home team who started the second half with more intent. In the 51st minute, Sony Norde found the back of the net from Kromah’s pass but much to his and the fans’ discontent, the linesman signalled for offside.
The Manipuri outfit soon shifted to a defensive approach, indicating that they were content with a point against giants Mohun Bagan.
Sanjoy Sen brought in Sourav Das around the 75th minute in place of Shilton D'Silva to increase the intensity up front. Norde tried his level best to stay on the pitch but his body gave up around the 83rd minute when the Haitian went down in pain and agony. Sen replaced the winger with Azharuddin Mullick, who made a comeback into the side after a prolonged period away from the field due to injury.
Ansumana Kromah, also not fully fit, was replaced in the 89th minute as the Green and Maroons struggled to another draw.
Mohun Bagan's woes continue with back to back draws as they remain third in the league table with nine points from five matches. NEROCA will continue in fifth with seven points from four games.