Prayag United 1-1 East Bengal – Baljit Sahni Rescues A Point For The Red And Gold
A late equalizer by the former JCT man ensures that East Bengal do not succumb to their second successive league defeat…
By Rahul Bali
Baljit Sahni saved the blushes for Trevor Morgan’s side as his late equalizer denied what would have almost fetched three points for Prayag United after Yusif Yakubu had given them the lead early in the second half.
Prayag United named a strong line-up with Denson Devadas returning to the starting line-up with Lal Kamal Bhowmick, Snehashish Dutta and Shylo Malswamtulunga comprising the rest of the midfield.
East Bengal opted to drop Penn Orji to the bench and had Alan Gow make his first start in the I-League this season.
The first chance came for the purple shirts as Kayne Vincent’s cross saw Snehashish’s header come off the post in the eighth minute.
Thereafter the game fell into a lull phase as the two sides preferred caution over exuberance. The ball was played along the midfield and while the wide men did well to get into good positions, the final delivery could have been much better for both sides.
Sanju Pradhan tried to force things by initiating a quick one-two with Ozbey before his deflected shot went over the bar in the 21st minute.
Two minutes later, a confusion in the Red and Gold’s defense almost led to Yakubu meeting a cross from the right with his head which would have surely resulted in a goal.
Around the half hour mark, Deepak Mandal sent in a curling cross which evaded Yakubu’s head to meet Snehashish who didn’t expect the ball to come to him inside the box. The result being East Bengal happily cleared the danger.
In the injury time of the first half, Ozbey did well to make some space for himself but ended up hitting the side of the net, much to the disappointment of the East Bengal fans.
It took just four minutes for Prayag United to take the lead after the break as Chinta Chandrashekhar’s cross was headed across by Arnab Mondal for Yakubu who put his head to good use.
Thereafter Yakubu did well to control to go past two East Bengal defenders and released Kayne Vincent who just gave the ball to the opposition.
Around the hour mark, Vincent was the guilty party again as Yakubu and Malswamtulunga combined with the Ghanaian sending a in cheeky ball for the number nine who sent the ball over without testing the goalkeeper.
Morgan made a triple change in as many minutes as in came Gurwinder Singh, Penn Orji and Baljit Sahni as the last season’s runners-up were looking to come back into the match.
Ozbey dribbled into the box and his shot came off the defender for an onrushing Sanju Pradhan who aimlessly shot it over the bar despite being under no pressure from an opposition defender.
Prayag, by this time, weren’t willing to commit men forward in attack which was highlighted by the fact that they had around four players inside the box from a flag-kick. Malswamtulunga should have come up with a better shot than hitting straight at him from an open chance.
The equalizer came in the 84th minute as Sanju’s through-ball saw Sahni make amends for his atrocious overhead kick in the previous match with a classy first time left foot finish which zoomed into the net.
That was not it as Abhijit Mondal’s double save kept out Ozbey twice in the dying moments of the match. Gow released Ozbey whose powerful shot was parried by Mondal and off the rebound he palmed away the following attempt.
The match ended with the same scoreline as Prayag United end up with a second consecutive draw. Questions will be asked over East Bengal’s poor display though they must thank their stars for earning a point from the match.
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