Eelco Schattorie's reign at Prayag United has got off to a brilliant start as the team has now won back-to-back matches...
Prayag United registered a 2-1 victory over Pailan Arrows at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata on a Sunday afternoon in a round six match of the I-League. C.K.Vineeth had put Prayag into the lead in the opening quarter following which Narayan Das pulled one back in the 84th minute. However just when it looked like the game was heading for a draw, Lalkamal Bhowmick came with the goods to seal the victory for his team.
Arthur Papas elected to start with an unchanged eleven from the one that went down to Pune FC, with Holicharan Narzary and Alwyn George leading the line for the AIFF Developmental side.
Eelco Schattorie too stuck to the side that thrashed a hapless United Sikkim side by nine goals, with Carlos Hernandez just playing off Ranti Martins upfront.
The first meaningful chance of the match came for Pailan as Pritam Kotal’s nicely worked free-kick through the wall found Deepak Devrani making a run, unmarked by the Prayag defense, but thankfully Subrata Paul was alert enough to save his shot.
However, in the 12th minute, it was Prayag United who scored on the break. After Bello Rasaq hoofed a long ball upfield after a Pailan corner, Carlos Hernandez did ever so well to shield the ball past two Arrows’ defenders. CK Vineeth drifted inwards from the left to take the ball off him and flick it into the top corner of the net, past a despairing Soram Poirei.
Just after the half hour mark, Hernandez almost got lucky as he squeezed between Devrani and Soram and got at the end of another long ball. His shot however, was saved by Soram who avoided the blushes.
While Prayag were mostly restricted to long shots through Carlos, Pailan Arrows could have scored at the other end as Rajinder Singh’s piledriver was saved by Subrata Paul.
Narzary, shadowed by Bello Rasaq for the entire half, almost got the better of his marker towards the end, but there were no Pailan attackers to support him.
Hernandez tried a cheeky lob as Prayag won a free-kick on the half line, seeing Soram off the line but the young goalie was just about able to save the danger.
In the second half, Pailan Arrows, in their search for that all elusive equaliser, began to press upfront.
Ranti Martins had a chance to add his name of the scoresheet when he was through on goal after being released by a delightful lob by Hernandez after some neat work by Deepak Mondal and Shylo Malswamtulunga. However the Nigerian's effort was saved by an alert Pailan custodian.
Thereafter the two teams had chances at either end. While Carlos' cross was cleared out of Vineeth's path by an alert Soram while Rajinder Kumar's curling ball was almost prodded into the goal by Narzary if not for Subrata Paul's timely intervention.
Just at the half hour mark, Ranti Martins missed two gilt-edged chances. Credit should however should go to Arrows defender Deepak Devrani who put in timely blocks on both occasions just as the former Dempo striker went to pull the trigger.
Prabir Das was next to try his luck from rong range as he tried to place the ball into the far corner, but thankfully for Subrata Paul, it went inches high.
Chances came thick and fast for Prayag United in the last quarter, as they wanted to increase their lead. First it was Carlos Hernandez who shot high after Deepak Mondal had cut in and put a ball in his path from the right wing. Then it was Ranti who was guilty of trying to do all on his own, instead of passing the ball to an unmarked Hernandez in the box.
It was eventually from a set piece with less than ten minutes to go, that Pailan finally got the equaliser. Tirthankar Sarkar's corner-kick which was expertly headed in by Narayan Das who rose higher than Gouramangi Moirangthem, beating him easily in the air.
Unfortunately for Papas, the lead was short-lived, as just four minutes later, Ranti played Malswamtulunga on the right who found Lalkamal Bhowmick making a late run into the box. Bhowmick's left footed shot left Soram with no chance and gave Prayag the lead back.
In what was a frantic end to the match, substitute Mohammed Rafique can count himself unlucky as his thundering effort from just outside the box, beat Soram all ends up but was thwarted by the crossbar. Shouvik Ghosh put in yet another block to deny Ranti from pouncing on the rebound.
At the other end, with only a minute to go, Tirthankar won another corner and with Pailan pushing everyone forward including their goalkeeper for the equaliser, what it needed was another great ball. However, that was not to be and the scoreline remained the same at the final whistle.
Having won two on the trot, Eelco Schattorie leads Prayag United to second on the table surpassing Dempo SC. Arthur Papas, though content with the performance, will have to work out how to stop conceding late goals.